Inside move: ‘Gosford Park’ east

Oscar nom helps sell Altman pic to Japan

A British period drawing-room drama isn’t the easiest sell in the land of steam baths, yet the slew of Oscar noms for Robert Altman’s ensemble drama “Gosford Park” has given Universal Pictures the impetus to pick up Japanese distribution rights — as well as German — on the eve of March 24.

Film will be released in both territories in May or June through U’s joint foreign distribution venture, UIP.

“Generally in the Far East they remained a little wary, even though the film performed well in the U.S. and the U.K.,” says Jane Barclay, co-chief of Capitol Films, which bankrolled the pic, in which the U.K.’s Film Council invested $2.8 million. “For the Asian market, it is really the Oscar nominations that have made it a very hot property.”

The Japan and Germany deals were brokered with U’s Graeme Mason, Jason Resnick and Lee Magiday.

“Park” is being released in most international territories in March and has wrapped deals for parts of South America, Mexico and most of the Far East. The only territory of note that remains “Gosford”-less is China.

Barclay and co-chief Sharon Harel next turn their attention to Cannes, where they will be busy with likely competition entry “Spider,” from David Cronenberg, and Brian Gilbert’s “The Gathering,” also tipped to screen at the fest.

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