Berlin whips up 160 deals

Led by sales rolls on “Largo Winch,” “The Wrestler,” “Afterwards” and “Sangre Pazzo,” Paris-based Wild Bunch closed multiple territories on a swathe of titles at the Berlinale.

The trade volume — some 160 sales at or in the run-up to Berlin — dramatically underscores the intensity of business at one of the world’s biggest indie sales agents.

Wild Bunch’s hottest draw — very possibly the most talked-about film at this year’s Berlin festival — was Steven Soderbergh’s two-pic “Che,” an action bio of large artistic ambition.

Screened in Soderbergh’s presence, 10 minutes of excerpts, mainly of first-part “Argentine,” had buyers talking bullishly about a work with the makings of a modern classic.

“Argentine” and “Guerrilla” have pre-sold to many major territories: France (Warner Bros.), the U.K. (Optimum), Scandinavia (Scanbox) and Italy (Bim Distribuzione, Wild Bunch’s Italo distrib partner).

Sun Distribution Co. has Latin America; Spanish rights lie with “Che” co-producer Telecinco.

Three U.S. buyers are circling “Che,” said Berlin reports.

The number is most probably significantly higher than that, though Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval said Wild Bunch was in no hurry to close a U.S. deal.

Germany may well go down within a week. Four Japanese companies are in talks, Maraval added.

A big bet for Wild Bunch, Jerome Salle’s $41 million “Largo Winch,” about a James Bond-ish heir to a global business empire, closed Germany with Telepool, and mopped up 19 other deals.

Budgeted at an affordable $8 million, and toplining Mickey Rourke, Darren Aranofsky’s “Wrestler” sold out-of-the-gates, off just a screenplay, to 15 territories, including Italy (Lucky Red), France (Mars) and CIS (Central Partnership).

Gilles Bourdos’ $15.4 million English-language debut “Afterwards,” a romantic suspenser with Romain Duris and John Malkovich, went to Mars for France, Telepool in Germany, Quality Films for Latin America, Preview for Italy and Eureka for Korea, among 15 deals.

“Sangre Pazzo,” from Marco Tullio Giordano (“The Best of Youth), sold 10 smaller territories.

Like “Winch,” Arnaud Desplechin’s family solidarity drama “A Christmas Tale” rolled off upbeat buyers reaction at last month’s Unifrance Paris Rendez-Vous to clinch sales to Italy (Bim), Canada (Seville), Switzerland (JMH), Portugal (Atalanta), Bulgaria (Radivision), Romania (Independenta), Israel (United Film) and Alliance (India).

““That’s very satisfying for us,” said Maraval.

“It’s our third film with Desplechin. We think he’s underrated internationally. ‘Kings and Queen’ opened up the market. It’s the first time we’ve pre-sold one of his films,” he added.

Also satisfying, said Maraval, was distributor reaction to Howard McCain’s long-in-the-works $47 million sci-fi “Outlander,” a Vikings vs. alien monster smackdown.

“Outlander” has sold widely. Of recent deals, Momentum has clinched the U.K., and DeAPlaneta took Spain. A German deal should go down this week.

In other, unannounced deals:

* The Weinstein Company has inked North American rights to Hayo Freitag’s tyke-targeted Teuton toonpic “The Three Robbers” from Animation X, a subsid of X Filme.

* Japan’s Asmik Ace bought Jaco van Dormael’s $50 million “Mr Nobody” off dazzling first footage.

* Samira Makhmalbaf’s “Two Legged Horse” closed Benelux (Imagine), Spain (Golem), CIS and Korea (JinJin Pics), among 15 sales.

* Tipped for San Sebastian, Woody Allen’s sensual “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” added Australia Hopscotch to already-closed deals for most of the world.

* Original Korean B.O. hit “Seven Days,” which Summit has bought for remake, was sold to Germany’s Telepool, the U.K.’s Icon and Scandinavia’s NonStop.

* Hong Kong’s Edko and CIS’s Central Partnership have picked up “Tokyo,” an out-there fantasy omnibus, the subject of seven deals.

* Of 11 sales, Metropolitan took the U.K., JBK France, and Central Partnership CIS on 2-D/3-D toonpic “Yona Yona Penguin,” the first children’s film from anime legend Rintaro (“Astro Boy”).

* Splitting territories with producer 2029, James Gray’s NYC romantic drama “Two Lovers,” with Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow, went to Sun for Latin America. Eureka took Korea.

* Handling TV/DVD on Studio Ghibli’s 1994 classic, “Ocean Waves,” Wild Bunch closed France (Ocean), Spain (Aurum), Germany (Telepool), the U.K. (Optimum) and Scandinavia (NonStop).

* Spain’s Avalon, Scandinavia’s NonStop and Australia’s Madman took Chris Watt’s “A Complete History of My Sexual Failures.”

* Australia’s Hopscotch has acquired Vera Belmont’s “Surviving With Wolves” and “Actresses,” following a San Sebastian deal on “Buddha Collapsed Out of Shame,” while Mexico’s Cinemas Nueva Era took Philippe Muyl’s circus tale “Magic” and Bruno Podalydes’ French local community comedy “Park Benches, which also sold to Russia’s CP.

* Quality Films took Latin America on friendship drama “Country Teacher,” from Czech Bohdan Slama, and Javier Fesser’s “Camino.” Marina de Van’s identity shift tale “Don’t Look Back” was bought by CIS’s Luxor, after prior major territory sales.

* “Downloading Nancy” clinched eight smaller territory deals off its Sundance screenings.

Some films — “Two Lovers,” for instance — look set to be put through Wild Bunch’s Euro distrib partners, Bim and Germany’s Senator/Central. Bim has also taken “Three Robbers.”

But that’s not the case for all films. Germany’s Telepool has taken a clutch of Wild Bunch titles.

Despite partnering with A-Film for Benelux, Wild Bunch has sold Benelux to Imagine on Jukka-Pekka Valkeapaa’s “The Visitor”; Cineart took Benelux rights to Marco Tullio Giordana’s “Sangre Pazzo,” with Monica Bellucci and Luca Zingaretti.

“We closed deals with different types of distributors in each territory so that we can pick the right type of distributor and guarantee our independence,” Maraval said.

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