‘Plans’ draws crowd at Rendez-Vous

Germany's Prokino buys Dany Boon starrer

Daniele Thompson’s “Change of Plans,” Samuel Collardey’s “The Apprentice” and Francois Ozon’s “Ricky” were standouts at France’s annual national cinema mart, the Unifrance Rendez-Vous With French Cinema.

Underscoring the appeal of warm Gallic comedies in the wake of “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis,” StudioCanal’s “Plans” was snapped up by Germany’s Prokino, which has already released “Ch’tis” to a huge $11.8 million haul.

Otherwise, the Rendez-Vous was long on titles, which buyers liked, but short on real market buzz.

Running Jan. 15-19 at Paris’ sumptuous Gran Hotel, the Rendez-Vous saw piecemeal sales.

Wide Management sold gay drama “Give Me Your Hand” to Britain’s Peccadillo Pictures, African heist thriller “Black” to Turkey’s D Prods. and Rene Ferret’s “Comme une etoile dans la nuit” to Canada’s Axia Films.

Italy’s Archibald took Emmanuel Mouret’s comedy “Fais moi plaisir,” about a couple’s sexual frustration, in a deal struck with Pyramide Intl., which has also taken international on Catherine Breillat’s “Barbe bleue,” a Berlin Panorama screener.

Bac Films will rep foreign on two French films from emerging helmers: former lawyer Hannelore Cayre’s procedural thriller “Legal Aid,” starring popular French thesp Roschidy Zem; and Jean-Christophe Klotz’s “Black Out,” a drama dealing with genocide in Rwanda.

On Friday Unifrance announced at the Rendez-Vous the best year on record for admissions to Gallic films outside France: a total of 80 million tickets sold in 2008 (Daily Variety, Jan. 16). Results were boosted by impressive numbers for breakout art films such as “Persepolis” (1.3 million admissions) and “Caramel” (1.2 million).

It’s not just French art films that get sold abroad these days; buyers are looking for mainstream, feel-good films, genre pics or biopics like “Coco Before Chanel,” Films Distribution’s Francois Yon said at the Rendez-Vous.

The Rendez-Vous did nothing to dispel French sales agents’ concerns about a long-term decline in distributor and audience interest in straight-arrow artpics, or even larger specialty films in markets such as the U.S., where minimum guarantees for foreign fare have plunged.

“The market is shrinking. Distributors are becoming a species in danger of extinction, their numbers decreasing every day,” Celluloid Dreams prexy Hengameh Panahi lamented in the run-up to the Rendez-Vous.

The Rendez-Vous finished with ominous rumors of layoffs at major indie sales companies in Paris.

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