Gaumont is rolling off a stellar American Film Market, having closed major pre-sales on Pixar-style toon feature “Ballerina,” period biopic “Monsieur Chocolat” with Omar Sy and Jean Dujardin starrer “Up For Love.”
One of Europe’s most ambitious animated feature projects, “Ballerina,” which marks the first animated feature produced by Laurent Zeitoun, Yann Zenou and Nicolas Duval at Quad Films (“Intouchables,””Heartbreaker”), pre-sold to eOne in the U.K., Videa in Italy, Belga/uDream in Benelux, IDC for Latin America, Monolith in Eastern Europe, Volga in Russia, A Contracorriente in Spain, Ascot Elite in Switzerland, Pan Cinema in South Korea and Odeon in Greece. Sales were inked following a private screening of a 40-minute cut of the film held on the eve of the AFM in Los Angeles.
Directed by Eric Summer and Eric Warin, The $28 million “Ballerina” features a high-profile voice cast headlined by Elle Fanning and Dane DeHaan, as well as a topnotch creative team including head of animation Theodore Ty, who worked on “Madagascar” 1 & 2 and “Kung Fu Panda” 1 & 2. The fabrication of the toonpic has been handled by Montreal-based company L’Atelier.
Gaumont also hosted several presentation to U.S. studios in collaboration with WME which reps domestic rights.
Filled with adventure, “Ballerina” tells the tale of Felice, an 11-year-old orphan girl from Brittany who dreams of becoming a ballerina at the Paris Opera and flees to Paris to fulfill her destiny.
“Buyers have been attracted to the story, the quality of the animation as well as the theme of classical dancing which is very universal,” said Cecile Gaget, international sales topper at Gaumont. “‘Ballerina’ is aimed at a female audiences — the young girls, their mothers, their grand-mothers.” There is also an adventure dimension to the film which appeals to both gender, per Gaget.
Gaumont will release the feature during the first semester of 2017.
Gaget, who also just sold Nicolas Refn’s “The Neon Demon” to the U.S., said Gaumont had its best AFM market in years. “Ambitious European films driven by good concepts, singular stories that make up Gaumont’s DNA proved attractive to independent European distributors.”
Gaget however noted that the market was overall very slow for multiple reasons: U.S. indie films struggle to get financed and packaged; in some case the scripts were not strong enough to attract A-list cast as talent increasingly favor daring U.S. shows, meanwhile buyers are wary of new distribution/exhibition models and are looking for movies that can work on multiple screens. The core of our business model today is to recoup our investment on theatrical admissions since we can’t rely on video ou TV sales,” explained Gaget.
At the AFM, Gaumont has also scored further pre-sales on Roschdy Zem’s sprawling, emotional biopic “Monsieur Chocolat” starring Omar Sy as Cuban artist Rafael Padilla. The project was picked up for Spain (Vertice) and Japan (Tohokushinsha). Previous deals were signed for Germany (DCM), Italy (Videa), Scandinavia (Miss Label), as well as Latin America (California), among other territories.
“‘Monsieur Chocolat’ has a very strong topic which buyers responded to. Even if we didn’t emphasized the political aspect of the film, it remains the true story of the first Black clown, a man who strived to claim his rights in the vein of ‘The Bulter,'” said Gaget, adding that the film will be shown in Berlin.
Gaumont has also locked major sales on Christian Vincent’s romantic drama “Courted,” which competed at Venice and scooped two awards for thesps Fabrice Luchini and screenplay. Pic sold to Studiocanal (U.K.), Spain (Surtsey) and Italy (Academy 2), AZ (Canada), Australia (Vendetta), Turkey (Medyavision) and Poland (Aurora).
Another market hit for Gaumont: Laurent Tirard’s “Up for Love,” a romantic comedy starring Jean Dujardin and Virginie Efira, which was picked up for Korea (At Nine), Japan (Shochiku), Spain (A Contracorriente), Hungary (Prorom), Turkey (Mediavizyon), Taiwan (Movie Cloud), Russia (Volga), Scandinavia (Miss label), Czech Republic (Bohemia), Hong Kong (Sun Dream) and (Latin America (California). Previous sales include TeleMunchen in Germany and Lucky Red in Italie. Several U.S. buyers started circling the movie after seeing the promo reel.
Other hot sellers include French titles such as Franck Gastambide’s burlesque comedy “Pattaya,” Michel Boujenah’s dramedy “Coeur en braille” as well as the critically-acclaimed Japanese animated feature “The Boy And The Beast.”