U.K. distrib Helkon SK has pulled out its commitment to pre-buy Brian Gilbert’s “The Gathering,” starring Christina Ricci, which had its world premiere Thursday night in the Cannes market.

Neither Granada, which financed the pic, nor Helkon would comment upon the reasons for this surprise exit.

It is understood, however, that Helkon SK’s decision was triggered by a dispute over a contractual principle.

It does not relate to the quality of the movie, which the company’s execs have not seen, nor to any financial issue on the part of Helkon SK, currently riding high after the boffo box office of “Bend it Like Beckham.”

Capitol Films, acting as sales agent for Granada, was scrambling Friday to alert other U.K. distribs to the fact that the pic was now available for their territory.

Helkon SK toppers Simon Franks and Zygi Kamasa were credited as exec producers of the pic, although that has now been removed. Pic was produced by Marc and Peter Samuelson.