Focus to handle foreign sales

Universal Pictures will co-finance Pedro Almodovar’s “Los abrazos rotos” (Broken Embraces), with Focus Features Intl. handling foreign sales.

The film, starring Penelope Cruz, starts shooting May 26 in Madrid and the Canary Islands.

Focus will handle sales in all foreign territories except Spain, where Almodovar’s own production outfit El Deseo retains the rights, and those countries where Almodovar traditionally partners with Pathe — France, the U.K., Benelux and Switzerland.

There is no U.S. distribution deal yet for the movie.

The deal between El Deseo, Universal and Focus continues a long-standing link that dates back to days when Focus was an independent known as Good Machine, jointly run by David Linde, now U’s co-chairman, Focus president James Schamus and Ted Hope.

The “Abrazos rotos” pact is also expected to begin an expanded relationship, involving collaboration between U’s new Intl. Studio and El Deseo on other projects yet to be announced.

Focus Intl. previously was sales agent for Almodovar’s “Volver,” “Bad Education” and “Talk to Her,” as well as other El Deseo titles, including “The Secret Life of Words” and “My Life Without Me.”

This is the first time Universal has co-financed one of Almodovar’s movies.

Focus is also handling sales for El Deseo’s “La mujer sin cabeza” (The Headless Woman), directed by Lucrecia Martel.

Christian Grass, president of Universal’s Intl. Studio, said, “Universal’s international production group is committed to providing the most comprehensive support possible for companies like El Deseo.”

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