Fox to bow ‘Bala,’ ‘Yellow Sea’ in U.S.

FIP titles to get limited domestic runs this fall

Fox Intl. Prods., the studio’s busy local-language production arm for overseas releases, is about to give some of its slate a specialty theatrical push in the U.S.

Gerardo Naranjo’s Mexican crime drama “Miss Bala” and Hong-jim Na’s South Korean crime thriller “The Yellow Sea” will get limited domestic runs through 20th Century Fox. Studio will unspool “Bala” Oct. 14 starting in New York while “Yellow” will also unspool some time in the fall.

D2 Films prexy David Dinerstein is consulting with Fox to strategize domestic marketing and distribution for both pics, with discussions for future films in the works.

News of both pics comes three months after Fox announced its Fox World Cinema label, designed to capitalize on the North American ancillary value of FIP films.

Earlier FIP titles (such as last year’s Indian romantic drama “My Name Is Khan”) have unspooled via Searchlight or bypassed U.S. theaters entirely.

“Miss Bala” premiered in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section in May and has secured a spot in both the Toronto Film Festival’s Contemporary World Cinema lineup and the New York Film Fest.

“Bala,” exec produced by Gael Garcia Bernal, Diego Luna and Geminiano Pineda, is a co-production of Canana and FIP.

“The Yellow Sea” (aka “The Murderer”) also played in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section after its December 2010 Korean release. “Sea” is a Popcorn Film production in association with Showbox/Mediaplex Inc and FIP.

Under head Sanford Panitch, FIP produces some 25 films a year, only some of which are considered a good fit for a U.S. release. FIP and other studio local-language production divisions generally aim more commercial titles than typical U.S. foreign-language arthouse releases. They’re usually designed for specific territories and not expected to be released domestically.

Sony released “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” via its Classics arm more than a decade ago to boffo box office, but few examples of such synergy have followed. Music Box’s success with the “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy may be influencing Fox and some other studios to rethink the potential of their foreign-language fare.

Dinerstein’s D2 outfit has seen success with this year’s roadshow rollout of Kevin Smith’s “Red State,” tying screenings to Smith’s lecture appearances. Prior to establishing his consultancy, Dinerstein was prexy of Lakeshore Entertainment and co-prexy of Paramount Classics.

(Rachel Abrams contributed to this report.)

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