French outfit racks up pre-sales across slate

Gallic powerhouse StudioCanal has departed the Loews at AFM with confidence, boasting a raft of international pre-sales on its robust slate, emphasizing the European studio’s global clout in what was deemed a slower market for some international sales outfits.

As the market began to wind down on Monday and many agents were packing their bags, Harold Van Lier, exec VP of international sales, was still fielding offers in the StudioCanal suite and even the hallway.

Van Lier said around 80% of deals done in Santa Monica were pre-sales, of which a third were sales for the $30 million Brit spy film “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” which it fully financed. Pic sold at the market to Italy (Medusa), Canada and Benelux (eOne), Italy (Medusa), Scandinavia (Svensk), Greece (Village), the Middle East (Gulf) and Portugal (Lusomondo).

Pic, produced by Working Title and starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy, also had strong offers for Australia, and a domestic deal is rumored to be closing imminently.

“This was the best AFM we’ve ever had,” said Van Lier. “It’s now comparable in business to what we do in Cannes. In five days at AFM, we managed to drive as much business as we do on the Croisette.”

He noted that biz was peppered much more across the board, with offers spread across eight to 10 films, as opposed to concentrated on one key project.

The Canal Plus-owned outfit unveiled a clutch of new projects, starting with a promo of “Lovers Guide 3D,” a feature adaptation of the popular sex ed tome. Pic, which already has a Valentine’s Day theatrical release next year in Blighty via its production-distrib division Optimum Releasing, sold to numerous territories, notably in Asia.

It also unleashed Spanish animated adventure “Tad Jones,” a 3D production in the vein of “Indiana Jones” for kids, which sees StudioCanal reteam with “Bruc” producers Jordi Gasull and Edmon Roch.

Sexy French-language thriller “Requiem for a Killer,” starring Melanie Laurent, and “Special Forces,” starring Diane Kruger, proved to be two strong sellers, with each closing deals in some 10-15 territories. Laurent and Kruger both starred in “Inglourious Basterds.”

A sequel to toon feature “Sammy’s Adventures” was also unveiled to buyers at AFM and sold to Benelux (Belga), Italy (Eagle), Korea (Daisy), Latin America (CDC), Scandinavia (Svensk) and a string of other territories.

On the first day of AFM, the Canal Plus-owned giant announced it’s reteaming with “The Last Exorcism” creators Eli Roth and Eric Newman for new project “Psycho Killer,” penned by “Seven” scribe Andrew Kevin Walker. Pic, which has yet to be cast, has already sold to Daisy in Korea and Alliance in Canada and received a string of offers from other territories.

Van Lier noted that the success of this market also reflected StudioCanal’s diversified slate. “We’re not just selling French films,” he said. “In fact, our lineup is 70% English this year, which is reflective of how internationally ambitious we are. We’re selling films that have global, commercial appeal.”

Further pre-sales deals were closed on StudioCanal’s U.K. production slate: “The Awakening,” sold to Canada (eOne) and Taiwan (Long Shong); “Brighton Rock,” sold to Benelux (Belga); and “Rafta Rafta,” which also secured deals.

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