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Case Study: Map of the Sounds of Tokyo

Film underscores Mediapro's international growth

Cannes Competition player “Map of the Sounds of Tokyo,” from helmer Isabel Coixet and shot entirely in Tokyo in Japanese and English, forms part of an ambitious growth strategy for Barcelona-based Mediapro.

One of Spain’s leading film/ TV companies, Mediapro co-produced Woody Allen’s “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and enjoys a further three-picture deal with Allen and Gravier Prods.

“English-language productions help us broaden our reach,” explains Mediapro producer Javier Mendez. “We’re increasingly focusing on relationships with premium international directors, such as Fernando Leon, Isabel Coixet and Woody Allen.”

Mediapro co-produced Coixet’s fifth feature, “The Secret Life of Words” (2005), starring Tim Robbins, and after her Penelope Cruz starrer “Elegy” (2008) was released to acclaim, offered to bankroll Coixet’s next feature.

Map” revolves around a steamy, suspense-laden relationship between a Spanish wine merchant played by Sergi Lopez (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) and a fishmonger-turned-assassin portrayed by “Babel’s” Rinko Kikuchi.

When the shoot had to be pushed forward from spring 2009 to October 2008 due to limited scheduling considerations regarding Kikuchi, the company decided to fund the $8 million film without presales or co-production.

Mediapro inked with production services company 21st Century, with whom it often works in Japan. “They were very professional, very focused and understood Isabel’s vision,” Mendez says. “We miss Tokyo a lot; people were tremendously cooperative.”

After its Competition selection, announced April 23, Mediapro secured presales for free TV rights with Spanish pubcaster TVE and Catalan broadcaster TV3, which also co-financed “Maps.”

The film can tap Spanish coin of up to $1.3 million, triggered if it surpasses $520,000 at the Spanish box office.

Mendez was aiming to secure French theatrical distribution before Cannes and hopes that good fest reviews will generate world sales, including U.S. distribution.

Sales agent Beatriz Setuain of Imagina Intl. Sales is upbeat. Coixet already has strong international appeal in territories such as France, Germany and Italy, she says.

“This film deals with big life issues — love, life and destiny — and offers a fascinating take on Tokyo. It’s likely to extend (Coixet’s) appeal, especially in Asian territories.”

Pic bows August in Spain.

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