Talks with Sony Classics at advanced stage

ROME

Giuseppe Tornatore’s English-language art world mystery “The Best Offer,” starring Geoffrey Rush, has opened boffo in Italy, becoming the helmer’s top local bow, just as several international sales are in the works including a U.S. deal.

Opening via Warner Bros., “Offer” pulled a strong $3.6 million from 400,000 admissions in the six days after its Jan. 1 bow, driven by Rush’s perf as an eccentric art auctioneer obsessing over an heiress with a villa full of art. It also stars Jim Sturgess, Donald Sutherland and rising Dutch star Sylvia Hoeks (“Tirza”).

Warner Bros. is touting the $730,000 first day take, which “Offer” scored off 317 screens, as Tornatore’s top bow. It bests his big-budget epic “Baaria,” which made $450,000 off 518 screens via Medusa on its opening day after opening the Venice Film Festival in September 2009.

Tornatore, who won the Academy Award for foreign-language film in 1989 for “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso,” has yet to replicate that pic’s international success.

Produced in association with Warner Bros. by Isabella Cocuzza and Arturo Paglia’s Rome-based Paco Cinematografica, “Best Offer” was shot in northern Italy, Vienna and Prague on an $18 million budget. The score is by Ennio Morricone.”With ‘Best Offer’ we were very conscious from day-one that we were making a film for the international market,” Paglia told Daily Variety.

Pic is being sold in most territories by uMedia’s sales and finance arm uConnect, headed by former Lakeshore Intl. prexy Peter Rogers. Rogers has closed deals for Japan (Gaga) and Australia (Transmission Films), while in Austria and Germany the film will go out via Warner Bros. following a likely gala screening at the Berlin Film Festival in February.

Deals are also in the works for the Middle East, Portugal and U.S., where sales are being handled by CAA and talks with Sony Classics are in advanced stages, according to sources. Paglia had no comment on the reported negotiations with Sony.

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