Miramax will Thai up ‘Tiger’ in 1st fest buy

Pricetag for North America alone believed to be 500K

CANNES — In the first major U.S. acquisition of the festival, Miramax Films has lassoed Wisit Sasanatieng’s Thai cowboy movie “Tears of the Black Tiger.”

Miramax has acquired all rights for North America, Latin America, Scandinavia and South Africa from the pic’s sales agent, Fortissimo Film Sales.

Pricetag for North America alone is believed to be $500,000.

Pic, described as a “spaghetti Eastern,” screens today in Un Certain Regard.

Digitally enhanced homage to the larger-than-life Thai Western genre concerns a girl from the right side of the tracks who falls for the most feared bandit in the country.

Director Wisit is part of a new wave of populist Thai filmmakers who were educated at foreign film schools and cut their teeth on commercials.

Pic was shot on 35mm, then transferred to digital video for color enhancement before being switched back onto film.

“It is clearly a sign of the coming age in Thai cinema that Miramax has embraced the energy and vision expressed in ‘Tears of the Black Tiger,’ ” said Fortissimo co-chairs Wouter Barendrecht and Michael J. Werner.

They negotiated the sale with Miramax senior VP of acquisitions Andrew Herwitz, Miramax Asia consultant Dede Nickerson and Australia consultant Victoria Treole.

Miramax took the film off the table just prior to the first press screening Thursday.

It previously unspooled, almost unnoticed, under a different title at last year’s Vancouver fest.

“Black Tiger” was produced by Film Bangkok, a division of Bec-Tero Entertainment.

In addition to making the first buy from an official Cannes section, Miramax has paid what sources peg as north of $1.5 million to snap up North American rights to the Lucy Liu and Jeremy Northam starrer “Company Man,” in production from Pandora Films.

Thriller follows a bewildered and reluctant spy (Northam) who finds himself over his head in corporate espionage until he teams with a mysterious femme fatale (Liu). Vincenzo Natali (“Cube”) directs from Brian King’s script.

“Company Man” is produced by Hunt Lowry, president-CEO of Gaylord Entertainment, with Gaylord exec VP of production Casey La Scala and Paul Federbush, Pandora VP of acquisitions and production.

Miramax senior VP of acquisitions Matt Brodlie and director of acquisitions Michelle Krumm will oversee the production for the company.

Pandora senior VP worldwide sales Shebnem Askin and business affairs head Dana Ginsburg repped the pic, with Herwitz, Krumm and Brodlie handling the sale for Miramax.

(Dana Harris and Cathy Dunkley contributed to this report.)