Co. sees payoff on heightened investments

The 3-D toon “Around the World in 50 Years” has taken far less time to sell around the world: StudioCanal took only three days at Cannes.

With “Chloe” selling all outstanding territories, save the U.S., which will be kept back for Toronto, and StudioCanal closing with Focus for the U.S. and beyond on Alain Chabat-produced “Baby(ies),” StudioCanal has had a banner Cannes, consolidating its status among the foremost production and sales operations in Europe.

Deals mark a payoff on StudioCanal’s heightened production investment, currently running around E150 million per year, plus a relative lack of other hot properties coming onto the market. The deals also suggest, as was the case at Berlin,  that with few new big-ticket titles coming into the market, international distribs willing to open their wallets will readily pounce on the competitively priced pics available.

“People are really focused on the question, ‘Is there a way to really make money on the project?,’ ” said Rodolphe Buet, StudioCanal exec VP of international distribution and business development.

“The market’s concentrating around a reduced number of stronger buyers and sellers, companies with strong financial stability and theatrical and DVD operations, and especially strong ties to television,” said Harold Van Lier, StudioCanal’s exec VP of international sales.

The second 3-D feature from Belgium’s Ben Stassen (“Fly Me to the Moon”), “Around the World” was produced and fully financed by his Brusssels-based NWave shingle.

In some high-profile “Around the World” deals, Universal Music Group, owned, like StudioCanal, by Vivendi, has partnered with StudioCanal, taking U.S. theatrical, DVD, television and non-theatrical rights.

UMG will also handle “Around the World’s” soundtrack, which will be created by Ms. Cherry and Vincent Herbert. UMG will also be able to use its local talent to support the film by recording cover songs from the soundtrack.

Italy’s Eagle Pictures has sealed a three-pic package with StudioCanal on “Around the World,” Amanda Seyfried starrer “Chloe” and Eli Roth’s “Cotton,” which starts shooting today.

SPI, MediaPro and Blitz have between them closed Eastern Europe, CDC United Network Latin America, Village Roadshow Greece and Daisy Korea.

StudioCanal will directly distribute “Around the World” in France and release through its U.K. and German distribution companies, Optimum Releasing and Kinowelt, respectively. It will bow in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Deals for Spain and Scandinavia are expected to close before the end of the market, said Van Lier.

Concluding its major territory sales outside the U.S., Spain and Russia, Australia’s Village Roadshow has acquired the Atom Egoyan-helmed “Chloe.”

Meanwhile, Focus Features has licensed U.S. domestic and multiple international rights — Mexico, Italy, Scandinavia, Korea and South Africa — on Thomas Balmes’ nonfiction “Baby(ies), following four babies from birth to first steps, from an original idea by France’s Alain Chabat, who produced with Amandine Billot and Christine Bouxel through his Chez Wam shingle.

Rolling off the licensing accord, Focus has struck a first-look deal with Chez Wam’s L.A. subsid Wam Films.

“Baby(ies)” is currently in post-production for release in 2010.

StudioCanal also announced that it’s launching a Blu-ray DVD collection of restored favorites from its catalog. Titles include Sydney Pollack’s “Three Days of the Condor,” David Lynch’s “The Elephant Man” and Michael Cimino’s “The Deer Hunter.”

The collection will be distributed in France, Germany and the U.K.  as well as Australia, Japan, Scandinavia, Benelux, Italy, Spain via Universal Pictures and in the U.S. via Lionsgate.

DVDs will cost $10-$25 and feature interviews of directors and thesps as well as documentaries, audio commentaries and analysis of the films by critics.

First titles will be released in France in November. Starting in 2010, StudioCanal will release three new titles every trimester.

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