Pathe opens pic path for Consortium

Pact would distribute 5 films

CANNES — The Film Consortium, one of the U.K.’s three lotto franchises, has agreed to a U.K. distribution deal for its next five pics with Pathe.

The pact, which is subject to approval by the Film Council, covers the theatrical and video release of “Room to Rent,” “Gabriel and Me,” “Dust,” “A Christmas Carol” and “24 Hour Party People.”

The Film Consortium has been exploring its U.K. distribution options for several months.

It previously released its films theatrically in the U.K. via United Intl. Pictures, with VCI handling video and contributing to the P&A.

That arrangement lapsed last year, but UIP continued to support TFC on a film-by-film basis until the production company could secure an alternative long-term deal.

TFC considered deals with Carlton Video and with Metrodome, but in the end Pathe offered the most attractive route.

Pathe, which also has its own lottery franchise, is not putting up an advance for the films, but is making a minimum P&A commitment.

The pics on the slate with the greatest commercial potential are thought to be “Dust,” Milcho Manchevski’s Balkan Western which is set to open the Venice Film Festival, Jimmy Murakami’s animated “A Christmas Carol,” and Michael Winterbottom’s rock comedy “24 Hour Party People.”

Udayan Prasad’s “Gabriel and Me,” which is set to preem at the Edinburgh fest, and the multi-ethnic comedy “Room to Rent” are lower-budget pics for a more specialized audience.

The U.K.’s three lottery franchises — TFC, Pathe and DNA Films — have access to a pool of lotto coin from the Film Council to co-finance British movies.

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