Spain’s Alta picks up ‘Nowhere Boy’

Lennon biopic to play in arthouses, multiplexes

MADRID — Alta Films, Spain’s top arthouse distributor, has inked with London-based sales agent Hanway Films on all Spanish rights to Sam Taylor-Wood’s John Lennon biopic “Nowhere Boy.”

Pact reps a select deal in one of the world’s notoriously difficult markets, for arthouse and mainstream film fare alike.

And it continues Alta’s push into movies that can play as well dubbed in multiplexes and subtitled in arthouses.

“We need to release pics for the whole Spanish theatrical market, so we look for titles that could work in both ways,” said Enrique Gonzalez Kuhn, Alta head of acquisitions.

Spain’s subtitled film market is smaller than other European countries’, such as France, and mainly focused around downtown Madrid and Barcelona.

According to Gonzalez Kuhn, “Nowhere Boy” has large crossover potential, “mixing an artistically-inclined director — Taylor-Wood — with the subject of John Lennon, which is attractive the world over, and a more mainstream style.”

Alta makes a policy of buying strong upscale European pics. In 2007 it successfully released Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s “The Lives of Others,” grossing Euros4.7 million ($6.6 million); in 2008 Mateo Garrone’s mafia drama “Gomorrah,” also distribbed by Alta, made a healthy $3.4 million in Spain.

In 2009, Alta released 23 feature films in Spanish theaters, six of them acquired on the international market. Alta’s higher performing pics included Juan Jose Campanella’s Spain-Argentina co-production “The Secret in Their Eyes” ($7.5 million) and Italian comedy “Mid-August Lunch” ($1.7 million).

The distrib plans a Spanish theatrical release of “Nowhere Boy” in May.

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