Focus keeps some territories on Wright thriller

Moving aggressively, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisition Group has acquired all available foreign territory rights to Focus Features’ adventure thriller “Hanna,” from director Joe Wright.

Deal throws the weight of a studio behind “Hanna” in many international territories.

Focus — Universal’s specialty division — will retain distribution rights to “Hanna” in the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Greece, Israel, Middle East and CIS. Sony Pictures Entertainment will release the film everywhere else.

Pact was engineered by Alison Thompson’s Focus Features Intl., which was shopping the project to foreign buyers at Cannes, and marks the biggest deal of the market so far. It also pairs a U.S. major with a U.S. studio specialty division.

“Hanna,” starring Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett and Eric Bana, is in its final month of filming in Europe and will be released in 2011. Project reteams Wright and Ronan, who worked together on Focus’ “Atonement.” Universal distributed “Atonement” internationally.

“It is a pleasure to be in business with Focus on what looks like an intense thriller. Audiences around the world will love this movie,” said Sony Pictures Entertainment prexy of worldwide affairs Peter Schlessel.

The Sony/Focus partnership was announced by Focus prexy of international sales and distribution Thompson and Peter Kujawski, Focus Features senior VP of international sales.

“Under Joe Wright’s direction, ‘Hanna’ is shaping up as a dynamic and highly commercial film and we are thrilled that Sony has been so quick to recognize its international potential,” Thompson said.

Ronan plays a girl trained by her father, an ex-CIA agent, to be the perfect assassin.

“Hanna” is produced for $30 million.

Under Schlessel’s tutelage Sony Worldwide has become a major buyer of indie product. It picked up “District 9,” which became a sleeper hit for the studio.

Buyers at the Cannes market say budgets have come down as a result of the global recession. There have been price adjustments, with top projects enjoying brisk biz based on their apparent commercial appeal.

Focus Intl.’s Cannes slate includes Robert Redford’s “The Conspirator,” Cary Fukunaga’s “Jane Eyre,” “One Day” and two films bowing in competition: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s “Biutiful” and Mike Leigh’s “Another Year.”

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