Berlin film market: Calm, collected

Deals get done but momentum missing

Berlin’s film market is bigger than ever and bulging with new product, but dealmaking at the midway stage has been steady, rather than spectacular.

Physical expansion and fragmentation of the sales mart may be a contributing factor, as buyers of all stripes have had to extend their travels from the fullto- bursting Martin Gropius Bau, through the Potsdamer Platz hotels hub, now on to the far-flung Maritim.

But also slowing the flow of dealmaking has been the need to hunt out the acceptable number of decent new projects and finished pictures from among an ever-larger heap of so-so stuff.

And so far the festival selection has provided little guidance, let alone a bid battle for a musthave title, although Entertainment have picked up U.K. rights to Berlinale competish entry “Elegy” from Lakeshore Entertainment. Pic, starring Penelope Cruz and Ben Kingsley, is an adaptation of Philip Roth’s sexually charged novella “The Dying Animal” about an affair between a professor (Kingsley) and his student (Cruz).

Pic is helmed by Isabel Coixet and produced by Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucceshi and Andre Lamal.

Entertainment has yet to set a release date.

Territories wave ‘So Long’

Ahead of its Thursday screening in offical competition at Berlin, UGC Intl. has sold Philippe Claudel’s “I’ve Loved You So Long,” with Kristin Scott Thomas, to the U.K. (Lionsgate), Italy (Mikado), Spain (Golem), Benelux (Lumiere) and JMH in Switzerland. Three U.S. companies are negotiating U.S. rights. Talks are also advanced for a licensing deal with Germany, UGC Intl. president Said Ben Said said Monday afternoon at the European Film Market. A deal with the U.S. could well go down by market end, he added.

The directorial debut of novelist- turned-screenwriter Claudel, pic toplines Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein as two sisters who are violently separated when young but atempt to rebuild their relationship 15 years later. A German- French co-production produced by UGC YM, UGC Images, France 3 Cinema and Integral Film, “I’ve Loved You” is produced by Yves Marmion. Driving sales, said Said Ben Said, is “Kristin Scott Thomas’ performance. She’s absolutely fabulous in the movie. I saw male distributors crying coming out of the screenings we arranged.”

Sony dunks ‘Balls’

Sony has picked up North American domestic rights to “Balls Out: The Gary Housman Story.” The comedy, helmed by Danny Leiner, stars Seann William Scott, Randy Quaid and Leonor Varela. Icon entertainment Intl. reps the film from its GreeneStreet slate. Talent agency UTA brokered the North American deal.

Sony has also picked up William Morris Independent’s “Frozen River” for Australia/ New Zealand and Latin America. Sony Pictures Classics nabbed U.S. rights to Courtney Hunt’s border drama in Sundance, where it took the grand jury prize.

‘Quiet’ buys for Italo hit

Nanni Moretti starrer “Quiet Chaos” has secured a number of foreign territories ahead of its official screening in competition at the Berlinale.

Pic, helmed by Antonello Grimaldi, has been bought by BAC in France, Alta in Spain, Cineart in Benelux, Filmcoopi in Switzerland, Seville in Canada, Midas in Portugal, Jin Jin in South Korea, Imovision in Brazil and Lev in Israel.

“Quiet Chaos” is about an exec (Moretti) coming to terms with the sudden death of his wife. Pic took the No. 1 slot at the Italian box office following its Feb. 8 domestic bow, ahead of “Asterix at the Olympic Games.” Pic scored $1.5 ($2.2 million) off 384 screens at home via 01 Distribuzione.

Roissy paints pretty picture

“Seraphine,” handled by Paris-based sales company Roissy Films, has sold to Seville Pictures in Canada, Spain’s Golem, and Joint Entertainment in Taiwan (twinned with “Caramel”), based on a promo reel showcased at the Berlin. Switzerland is under discussion. The film will also be distributed by Diaphana in France and Cineart in Benelux. Starring Ulrich Tukur and Yolande Moreau, Seraphine” is the biopic of French post-modernist painter Seraphine de Senlis. “The film looks sensitive, delicate, moving and especially appropriate for women,” said Golem’s Pedro Zarategui. “Seraphine” will be completed by Cannes.

CJ pacts for string of pics

Korean market leader CJ Entertainment has had a brisk start to the market, inking a quartet of sales in Germany and a string of others in Asia.

Splendid Medien pre-bought all rights in Germany to period drama “The Divine Weapon” and to drama “Fate.” It also took all rights to completed pics “Our Town” and “Open City.”

Fantasy drama “The Man Who Was Superman” was picked up by J-Bics for Thailand, Golden Scene for Hong Kong and Festive Films for Singapore. Taiwanese video and TV distributor Shengchi took partial rights to “Love Now,” “See You After School” and “Marriage Is a Crazy Thing.”

CJ reports that it has been fighting off bidders for the newly titled Park Chan-wook project “Thirst,” but will likely not close major territories until it is clear of the destination of U.S. rights.

Icon takes ‘Shelter’

Icon has acquired U.K. and Australian rights to Mans Marlin and Bjorn Stein’s supernatural thriller “Shelter” and Oren Peli’s low-budget horror pic “Paranormal Activity.” Both pix were being handled by IM Global. Jonathan Rhys Meyers is in talks to star in the $25 million “Shelter,” with shooting set to begin in March.

NuImage inks pacts

Lionsgate U.K. has inked a three-title deal with NuImage that includes the sale of “Conan the Barbarian.”

The pic was sold as part of a package deal to Frances Metropolitain and Greece’s Odeon, which also picked up rights to “Void Moon,” and Romania’s MediaPro. NuImage also signed a deal with Germany’s ProSieben, which included the sale of “The Prince and Me.” Company also sold “Righteous Kill’s” South African to Nu Metro.

(Elsa Bertet, Patrick Frater, John Hopewell, Ali Jaafar and Ed Meza contributed to this report.)

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