Long in the making, 'Tournament' was powered by promo

American auds may already be familiar with action-packed Brit pic “The Tournament,” which has gained somewhat of a cult status in the U.S. since its straight-to-DVD release Oct. 20. But when it hits U.K. screens July 9, it will be the first time many Blighty auds will lay eyes on it.

“The Tournament” started generating buzz at AFM three years ago when U.K. helmer Scott Mann took a 10-minute promo of the pic to the market. U.K-based sales agent AV Pictures knocked out a number of global presales deals, including Entertainment Film Distributors for the U.K. and the Weinstein Co. for North America, Far East and Latin America (excluding Brazil).

But when TWC released the pic straight to DVD in the U.S., Mann and producer Gina Fegan began to worry about the feature’s U.K. theatrical future.

The filmmakers discovered just five weeks ago that the pic was still on schedule to hit 100-150 U.K. screens this summer, and admitted it was a huge relief.

The £4.1 million ($5.9 million) pic, which was shot in Bulgaria and the U.K., faced a number of problems in financing, despite the encouraging presales deals. The budget for the shoot fell through three times before Bahrain-based Sherazade Film Development stepped in to fully finance the pic.

“Tournament,” in which a number of assassins fight each other in a race against time, stars a slew of actors with strong, non-mainstream fan bases including Robert Carlyle, Kelly Hu, Ian Somerhalder, Ving Rhames and Sebastian Foucan. Their fans, and the pic’s Internet trailer, may have helped keep the U.K. theatrical release on schedule.

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