French comedies starting to travel abroad

CANNES — Buoyed by strong early sales on Gallic gross-out pic “The French Kissers,” new French sales company Other Angle Pics has entered the distribution arena, acquiring films for France.

It has also established a film-by-film international sales arrangement with France’s Mars Films and France Telecom-Orange’s film production arm, Studio 37.

The sales and moves establish Other Angle as a feisty new player in France’s quickly evolving film sector, taking films on the more mainstream side of foreign-language fare to the world and bringing some fairly sizeable titles to France.

Playing Directors’ Fortnight, “Kissers” has sold to Germany (Kool Filmdistribution), Spain (Karma Films), Italy (Nomad Films), Australia (Palace Films) and Benelux (Alternative Films).

A teen gotta-get-laid gross-out pic, drawing inevitable comparisons with Judd Apatow’s output, “Kissers” has also been licensed to Switzerland (Pathe), Portugal (Atalanta) and Greece (Strada).

Negotiations are ongoing for the U.S. and U.K., said Olivier Albou, who launched Other Angle with wife Laurence Schonberg at Berlin.

In acquisitions, Other Angle has taken French rights to Liam Neeson starrer “After.Life” and animated movie “Battle for Terra,” both from IM Global. It is closing on two other titles shortly, Albou said. Other Angle will sub-distribute through other distributors in France.

“Kissers” exemplifies Other Angle’s strong line in French comedies. The feature film debut of comicbook artist Riad Sattouf, and a sharp-eared tale of two teen libido-led losers desperate to lose their virginity, “Kissers” is co-produced by Les Films des Tournelle, Pathe and Studio 37.

Other Angle has also taken international on Studio 37 co-prod “Bambou,” a family dog tale from Didier Bourdon, which sold to Les Films de L’Elysee for Benelux.

“Studio 37 has an international sales relationship with Kinology on a lot of films. Our relationship is film-by-film and on smaller titles,” Albou said.

Its sales suggest that an international market now exists for Gallic comedies that once would have remained grounded as home B.O. hits.

In further breakout Cannes sales on near-to-mainstream comic fare, Other Angle has licensed “La Premiere Etoile” to Germany (Kool) and Italy (Nomad). Canada (Seville), Switzerland (Frenetic) and Benelux (Les Films de L’Elysee) went at Berlin.

French auds thought “Etoile’s” tale of a black family taking to the ski slopes a hoot: “Etoile” has punched Euros 9.7 million ($12.8 million ) in France, making it the seventh highest-grossing French film of 2009.

In the wake of “Welcome to the Sticks,” international sales suggest distributors in key Euro markets think there’s B.O. mileage for French-language feel-good fare, if the pics perform well at the Gallic B.O.

Other Angle has also taken international on ’80s rock band saga “Bus Palladium,” the feature debut of Christopher Thompson.

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