‘Magic’ Sells U.S. ‘Macbeth,’ ‘Legend,’ ‘Bastille

Michael Fassbender/Marion Cotillard promo draws heat at Cannes

Announcing its fifth U.S. sale in three weeks –- Shout! Factory’s pickup on 3D toon pic “The House of Magic” –- Studiocanal, Europe’s biggest film production-distribution force, has had its best Cannes ever.

Record Croisette sales drivers included “Macbeth,” with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard, Tom Hardy starrer “Legend” and “Bastille Day,” with Idris Elba.

But Studiocanal also rolled off strength in depth across a 16-pic sales slate, including first sales for Luca Guadagnino’s untitled thriller, starring Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) and Matthias Schoenaerts (“Rust and Bone”).

“All our films are selling well, including films that continued from other markets,” Studiocanal intl. film sales head Anna Marsh said Wednesday at Cannes.

Equally important, 2014’s Cannes fully underscored that Hollywood agents and indie distributors are now increasingly shy of committing clients and money, respectively, to movies coming on to the market only partly financed.

Directed by Ben Stassen and Jeremie Degruson, and produced by Stassen’s nWave Studios, a 3D pioneer, family adventure movie “Magic” will receive a theatrical release from Shout! Factory, the U.S. distributor of some weighty French animation fare from Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp.

A Weinstein Co. North America pickup since last year, “Macbeth” has now sold out the world except, of major territories, Spain and Japan, said Marsh.

Flagship new deals include Nashe Kino for Russia, Sun Distribution for Latin America, Videa for Italy, Pan Cinema for Korea and
Aton for Taiwan, plus 13 smaller territories. Studiocanal distributes “Macbeth” directly in the U.K., France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, and on near all of its top titles. In “Macbeth’s” case, Transmission has taken Australia/New Zealand.
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Studiocanal’s sales roll off one of the most buzzed-up promos at Cannes — rarely is Shakespeare heard whispered in intimacy, or seen spoken on scenes of large scope; with TWC handling U.S. distribution, “Macbeth” has been sparking inevitable Oscar speculation heat. Producers are shooting for October delivery. Justin Kurzel (“Snowtown”) helms.

Directed by James Watkins (“Woman in Black”), starring Idris Elba (“Luther”) and Adele Exarchopoulos (“Blue Is the Warmest Color”), Paris-set thriller “Bastille Day,” which came onto the market at Cannes, has closed Latin America (Sun Distribution), Hong Kong (Bravo Pics) and China, plus a slew of smaller deals, leaving only Italy, Japan, Spain and Russia to license among the bigger territories.

“Sexy and glamorous,” according to Studiocanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson, an untitled Luca Guadagnino psychological thriller, on which key cast was announced on the eve of Cannes, has kicked off sales, closing Benelux (Lumiere), Middle East (Salim Rania), Greece (Seven), Romania (Odeon) and Switzerland. Scandinavia is under advanced negotiations.

Studiocanal’s success reflects its policy of building up talent relations with some of the best producers in Europe and the U.S., who have their own access to A-list talent.

With a summer shoot skedded, “Bastille Day” is produced by Philippe Rousselet’s Vendome Pictures (“Source Code”) and Steve Golin’s Anonymous Content (“Babel,” “True Detective”). “Macbeth” is from “The King’s Speech’s” Iain Canning and Emile Sherman at See-Saw. “Legend” is the fifth title on which Working Title partners with Studiocanal.

The Euro film/TV mini studio has seen substantial success with its character-driven action thrillers: “Unknown,” which Studiocanal co-produced, grossed $130.8 million worldwide; “Non-Stop,” which it financed, was at $191.9 million through May 11.

Studiocanal fully finances its projects and has skin in the game, distributing them in its five territories, said Marsh.

Meanwhile, the untitled Stephen Frears Project, about the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong, played by Ben Foster, has closed Korea (Pan Cinema), Spain (Vertigo), Italy (Medea) and Latin America (Sun Distribution), finished selling Eastern Europe, and closed multiple Asian territories.

Japan and Scandinavia are under negotiations, leaving only the U.S., Benelux and China to sell on the Frears film, Marsh said.

Of U.S. deals on Studiocanal movies, the Brian Helgeland-directed “Legend” was acquired for North America by Cross Creek Productions. Open Road picked up Sean Penn thriller “The Gunman,” produced by Joel Silver, a week before Cannes. On the Croisette, Focus Features has taken “Bastille Day,” and Magnolia Tobias Lindholm’s “A War.”

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