Japan’s Cetera takes ‘Caramel’

Roissy sells last major territory for arthouse film

MADRID — Paris-based sales agent and production house Roissy Films has sold the last major territory on “Caramel,” closing all rights with Cetera Intl. for Japan, one of the toughest artfilm markets in the world.

Deal was inked Monday by Yohann Comte, Roissy head of international sales, new feature films, and Cetera CEO Yoko Yamanaka.

Film will go out theatrically in Japan late 2008 or early 2009.

The first film from Nadine Labaki, who also co-stars, “Caramel” will be released in Taiwan by Joint Ent. in May and receives a theatrical opening this June in South Korea from With Cinema.

A breakout hit, thanks in part to a positive reception at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight last year, “Caramel” was picked up for the U.S. by Roadside Attractions. Stateside B.O. stands at around $700,000.

Centering engagingly on the lives of five women who meet at a Beirut beauty salon, film was produced by Gallic indie Les Films des Tournelles, Lebanon’s Les Films de Beyrouth and Sunnyland, Franco-German broadcaster Arte and Roissy.

The Lebanese Labaki is an former 2005 alum of the Cannes Cinefondation’s Paris residence course.

“Caramel” has proved a sizeable hit in Italy, where Lady Films has notched up north of 250,000 admissions, and Spain, with over 200,000 tickets sold for distributor Alta Films.

“Both countries share the same warm Latin culture as Lebanon, but the distributors also really backed ‘Caramel,’” said Comte.

Gutek’s 39,000 admissions, and still counting, in Poland, has been a surprise.

Film has also been a hit for Norway’s Arthouse and India’s Alliance, “Perhaps because Lebanon and India share some of the same taboos,” said Comte.

A first-week 14,000 tickets from Alpha Films in Argentina from 13 prints bodes well for “Caramel’s” Latin American roll-out.

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