Spanish buyers return to the table

Market is still tough, say sellers

MADRID — Spanish distribs made a cautious return to the negotiating table in recent weeks, grabbing the rights to a raft of Berlin titles. Despite this, Spain remains a tough market.

Reflecting a view expressed by buyers from other countries, several Ibero distribs — both mainstream and arthouse — lamented a lack of arresting titles at the European Film Market.

Of deals revealed after Berlin on big indie titles, DeAPlaneta has inked with Wild Bunch on Howard McCain’s $47 million “Outlander,” a Vikings vs. alien monster smackdown.

Aurum has taken Christophe Barratier’s retro music hall saga “Paris 36” from Pathe Intl.

Spanish rights to Steven Soderbergh’s “Che” duo are held by co-producer Telecinco.

Another big U.S. director-driven production, Martin Scorsese’s Leonardo DiCaprio starrer “Shutter Island,” sold by Paramount Vantage, is under negotiations for Spain.

Vertice 360-owned big title distrib house Manga is looking like the leading contender, though Vertice sources declined to make any comment on talks, including a reported $6 million-$8 million sales tag.

Underscoring just how selective mainstream indie Spanish distribs have become, especially if the acquisitions are locked into output deals, Tripictures, New Line’s Spanish distributor, didn’t even attend Berlin.

Distribs’ pickiness was partly a question of supply, not just demand.

On Pictures, the film arm of Spanish publishing conglom Zeta Group, closed not one deal at Berlin.

“We pre-buy highly selectively and the WGA stoppage made for a pretty weak market with few titles. Cannes will offer more pre-buy opportunities,” said On acquisitions head Elisa Martin de Blas.

Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval was slightly more optimistic. “Spain, like Germany, is showing some traction,” he said.

Deals did go down, especially on specialty titles.

Alta Films, Spain’s top arthouse distrib-exhib combo, bought Jose Padilha’s Berlin competish winner “Elite Squad,” Rio fest winner “Estomago” and Nanni Moretti starrer “Quiet Chaos.”

Alta acquisition head Enrique Gonzalez Kuhn underscored the toughness of the Spanish market — “Films have to have theatrical potential,” he said — but he was delighted by his Berlin buys. “Nanni Moretti hasn’t been seen in many films for quite some time and ‘Quiet Chaos’ is fantastic; ‘Elite Squad’ has potential with younger spectators, and Brazil’s highly interesting for films,” Gonzalez Kuhn said.

Wild Bunch closed with Aurum for TV/DVD rights to Studio Ghibli’s 1994 classic “Ocean Waves.

Golem Distribucion, a consistent arthouse buyer of late, acquired Laurent Cantet’s drama “Entre les murs” from Paris-based Memento Films Intl.

It also inked with UGC Intl. on Philippe Claudel’s “I’ve Loved You So Long,” toplining Kristin Scott Thomas, and with Wild Bunch on Samira Makhmalbaf’s “Two-Legged Horse.”

In the run up to Berlin, Golem inked with yet another French agent, Films Distribution, for two Berlin award-winners, Wang Xiaoshuai’s “In Love We Trust,” Silver Bear for best script, and Eran Riklis’ “Lemon Tree,” which took the Panorama audience nod. Films Distribution also sold Golem Robert Guediguan’s thriller “Lady Jane.”

Spanish indie distrib Flins & Piniculas bought two titles from Russia’s Central Partnership: Nikita Mikhalkov’s Oscar-nominated psychological thriller “12” and Vladimir Khotinenko’s historical drama “1612.”

From Delphis Films, Flins took two family pics: Finnish box-office hit “Christmas Story” and Mischa Kamp’s official contender in the Berlinale Generation, “Where Is Winky’s Horse?”

Miguel Angel Perez’s niche distribbery Karma Films extended its solid relationship with Mongolian helmer Byambasuren Davaa, buying his upcoming “The Two Horses of Gengis Khan,” sold by Atrix Films.

Karma also closed Intermedia Cinema’s monastery drama “Ostrov” (The Island), by Russian Pavel Lungin.

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