Duo team for Ruzowitzky pic
European powerhouse StudioCanal is teaming with Mark Cuban and Todd Wagner’s 2929 Entertainment and Gary Levinsohn’s Mutual Film Co. to make “Blackbird,” the next film by Austria’s Stefan Ruzowitzky (“The Counterfeiters”).StudioCanal has acquired all rights to France, Germany and the U.K. on the pic, budgeted at $25 million. It will also sell rights to the rest of the world. A modern interpretation of the American north, blending action, drama and romance, according to Ruzowitzky. “Blackbird” stars Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde as a brother and sister fleeing after a casino heist, who meet a young boxer (Charlie Hunnam) just out of prison. Sissy Spacek and Kris Kristofferson play the boxer’s parents. The film, from an original script by Zach Dean, is financed by 2929. Levinsohn and Shelly Clippard are producing; Madhouse Entertainment co-produces. Pic rolls in early March in Montreal. StudioCanal will distribute “Blackbird” in France, the U.K. (via subsid Optimum) and in Germany (through StudioCanal-owned Kinowelt). Pointing up its growing international sales business, the deal shows StudioCanal stepping up to the table for the first time to compete with U.S. sales agents on a U.S.-financed film. “As a producer, nothing could please me more than seeing a distributor like StudioCanal being so aggressive as to both acquire rights to distribute in its own territories as well as investing in the rights for the rest of the world,” said Levinsohn, co-founder of Mutual. The “Blackbird” deal also adds to StudioCanal’s strong line in what chairman-CEO Olivier Courson calls “elevated genre,” which he says is one of StudioCanal’s production priorities. At Berlin, StudioCanal is selling Tomas Alfredson’s Working Title-produced “Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy,” and Joe Cornish’s directorial debut “Attack the Block,” produced by Big Talk, Channel 4 and Optimum Releasing. Elevated genre budgets can range up to $30 million; “The Last Exorcism,” which StudioCanal fully-financed, was budgeted at about $2 million Courson said. He added that such films have a strong market in Europe and in foreign sales. “Blackbird” confirms StudioCanal as a “home for really great European directors who are moving into different types of films,” said Ron Halpern, StudioCanal head of international acquisition and production. Distributing directly in France, U.K. and Germany allows StudioCanal to generate more internationally skewed marketing materials and, as a sales agent, focus on selling the rest of the world, he added. “Counterfeiters” won Ruzowitzky a foreign-language Academy Award. “Blackbird” will be ready for delivery around first quarter 2012.
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