Relativity Media heads to Cannes

Relativity Media hits the Croisette this month with senior VP of acquisitions, Joe Matukewicz, on board and a fresh infusion of cash, thanks to backer Elliot Associates.

Relativity, repped by FilmNation, will be pre-selling “Untitled Snow White,” the dark twist on the classic fairy tale due out in 2012, directed by Tarsem Singh and starring Lily Collins, Julia Roberts and Armie Hammer.

The studio will be also talking up ancient Greek battle epic “Immortals,” due out in November with Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto and Mickey Rourke, and also helmed by Singh.

“Cannes is a great opportunity for us to meet with all of our international partners, talk about our upcoming projects and share marketing and distribution ideas,” president and CFO Steve Bertram tells Variety. “On ‘Immortals,’ we want to get in early, get in front of our partners and discuss strategies for releasing.”

The company has deals with 15 foreign output partners spanning much of the globe.

Last year at Cannes, Relativity showed footage of “The Fighter,” which ended up a home run and garnered the studio considerable critical and financial success.

Relativity’s acquisitions team will also be on hand, and on the alert. “We are always open to acquiring great pictures,” Bertram says.

Matukewicz will be flanked by, of course, Relativity founder and chief Ryan Kavanaugh, Tucker Tooley, head of worldwide production, and members of the studio’s marketing and distribution team.

“Our first priority is for U.S. distribution,” Bertram says. “We’re open to anything that has the opportunity to be a commercial success.”

Despite Kavanaugh’s high-flying reputation, the studio’s been relatively restrained on the acquisitions front and has never made a buy at Cannes.

Matukewicz, the former VP of acquisitions and co-productions for Paramount Vantage and Paramount Worldwide Acquisitions, joined Relativity in January just before the Sundance Film Festival. The company didn’t pick up anything there (at Sundance 2009 it acquired “Catfish”) and so far he’s brought three pictures to the table outside the markets, “Shark Night 3D,” “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer” and “House at the End of the Street.”

Relativity’s other acquisitions include “Skyline,” “Sanctum” and “The Raven.”

Relativity execs describe a mood of cautious optimism heading into the fest and lots of buzz about a few pics that will be screened in full or in footage, including “This Must Be the Place,” with Sean Penn by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino (“Il Divo”), about a bored retired rock star who sets out to find a Nazi war criminal who persecuted his father; “The Iron Lady,” by U.K. director Phyllida Lloyd with Meryl Streep playing Margaret Thatcher; and Walter Salles’ “On the Road” from the iconic Jack Kerouac novel.

But Relativity brass warns against festival fever and says that buyers overall are much more careful than they were a few years ago. However, the company might be at an advantage in the sense that if it sees something it likes, it’s very nimble. “We are still small enough to be able to make decisions quickly and run the numbers,” says one company exec who requested anonymity. Says Matukewicz: “Ryan is incredibly aggressive and entrepreneurial.”

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