CJ, Finecut, M-Line report international deals

PUSAN — The Pusan Film Festival’s Asian Film Market wrapped Wednesday with a flurry of sales.

The market seemed best suited to the local big names such as CJ, M-Line Distribution and Finecut.

CJ pre-sold “Ghost” to Taiwan’s Catchplay. Pic is a remake of the Hollywood hit that CJ is doing with Paramount Pictures Japan. Catchplay also picked up “Love in Between,” a thriller from CJ set for release next month, as well as “The Recipe” and “Moss,” which CJ also sold to Emphasis in Hong Kong.

Domestic hit “The Servant” sold to Catchplay and Singapore’s Sky Media, while Malaysia’s Hwa Yeah Multimedia picked up CJ’s “Harmony” and “Secret.”

“This year’s Asian Film Market was the best for CJ Entertainment for the last four to five years,” said Kini Kim, the head of international sales and distribution.

M-Line Distribution closed deals with Thailand’s STG for “Haunters,” “Paju” and “Maybe,” while festival title “Acoustic” went to Catchplay and Hwa Yea Multimedia.

FineCut sold Lee Chang-dong’s “Poetry” to companies from a total of 20 countries, including Hong Kong’s Edko, the National Film Organization of Syria and Clap Filmes for Portugal, among others. John H. Lee’s Korean War epic “71 — Into the Fire” was picked up by CTV of France, Eagle of Taiwan, and STC of Thailand, while a family drama “Hearty Paw 2″ was sold to AV-JET for Taiwan.

Among the market-screening-only titles, “Cyrano Agency” and “Troubleshooter” were both sold to Catchplay and Skymedia. “Hahaha” went to Hong Kong’s Emphasis and Mexico’s Fideicomiso Para La Cineteca Nacional.

“Carancho” sold to Filmatri of Turkey and Catchplay in Taiwan.

The market also helped to lay groundwork for the American Film Market.

“We highly expect to close further deals with Asian distributors including Japan before the American Film Market,” said the CEO of FineCut, Suh Young-joo.

The market attracted 108 companies from 26 countries, with the number of participating companies up 44% on last year, and there was a fair buzz about the place, but it would be hard to describe the Asian Film Market as hopping.

While there was a strong representation at the Seacloud Hotel from emerging markets like Taiwan and Thailand, they did not close any deals.

Some marketers said privately that it wasn’t just because of the fact that the Tokyo Film Festival takes place in the same month, but that they didn’t like the format of the market. The way it was divided up into offices meant you couldn’t get an overview easily of who was doing business. This may change next year when the market moves with the rest of the fest to the larger exhibition space.

“For me, the Asian Film Market was fine in general. This was our first time in Pusan and we just started to meet people here. However, before I came here I expected there would be more buyers. It was quite hard to meet them here,” said Rapeeporn Hamontree, veep of marketing and sales at Kantana Creative Services Company.

There were 39 films from 10 different countries screened in the market, while a new online screening service had 168 films registered.

The number of badges issued crept up to 789 from 780 last year, although organizers said the number of meetings rose sharply.

However, despite some quibbles, there were successes. This year’s market saw a return by Japanese companies who decided to give Pusan a miss in previous years. This is often blamed on the proximity to Tokyo, but this year companies like TBS and Toho were at Pusan.

“One of the reasons they came here this year is that their films were run at the festival and they had to support the directors and actors,” said Unijapan’s Azusa Soya.

TBS handled helmer Ryuichi Hiroki’s “The Lightning Tree,” with emerging thesp Yu Aoi, who is a big name in Korea, attending the fest opening ceremony.

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