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IEG frontloads ‘Gangs’

Scorsese pic will head o'seas in January

NEW YORK — “Gangs of New York” will roll out internationally like, well, gangbusters.

Initial Entertainment Group — the company that pre-sold and controls the pic’s international rights — will unveil the long-gestating Miramax epic in a host of foreign territories in quick succession following its Tokyo debut on Dec. 21. Pic is skedded for a Christmas Day bow in the U.S.

IEG topper Graham King told Daily Variety that 99% of all international territories taking the film will release it within the Jan.-Feb. frame.

The Martin Scorsese-helmed pic, toplined by Leonardo DiCaprio, will be released by M6 Group-owned SNB in France on Jan. 8, by Entertainment in the U.K on Jan. 10, Miramax in Scandinavia on Jan. 17 and Columbia Pictures in Australia on Feb. 13.

Japan’s release is being handled jointly by Shochiku and Nippon Herald. No firm Italian date has yet been set. Fox is handling distribution in Italy.

“Every international distributor these days, in this climate, wants to feed off of the U.S. release date as much as they can,” said King. “That’s just the state of the market, not the film itself. Also, the international success of a film, especially of this size, really follows what happens in the U.S. There’s no doubt that the U.S. vibe of the film comes across overseas.”

Dates closer

King said that moving up international release dates closer to their domestic dates was not just about distribs recouping money as soon as possible. “I think everyone’s doing the smart play, which is releasing the movie at approximately the same time. Hopefully, we will also get some Oscar and other nominations, which will help drive the release domestically and internationally.”

King pre-sold international rights to “Ali” and “Traffic,” both December released. When the latter was released overseas, it hugely benefited from a slew of award nominations.

Another factor in the “Gangs” plan is DiCaprio’s star turn in DreamWorks’ “Catch Me If You Can,” opening Stateside on Dec. 25. The pic is being released internationally by UIP, in most cases after the “Gangs” release in the corresponding territory in January, February and March.

“As an international distributor, you also have the hindrance of having another DiCaprio movie coming out,” said King. “But I think the audience is smart enough to want to go and see both films.”

Best date

King said that he was pleased that the film would open first in Japan.

“They paid so much for the movie and worked so hard on it, plus we had to cancel two previous dates with them, it seemed only fair,” said King in explaining why the pic will open first in Japan. “Although I would like to take care of every client in the world, Japan is a big market for us.”

Japan paid the largest international territory pricetag. Shochiku and Nippon Herald ponied up $16 million. IEG was in for a $65 million cap, all of which it pre-sold to international buyers when the film was being packaged.

The $13 million that “Gangs” went over budget was split between Miramax and Touchstone Pictures, who along with each international territory distrib carries the $97 million pic’s risk.

“I am very proud of the job Marty Scorsese did on the film,” said King. “It’s also been a really good experience working with Miramax. I’m so proud to be involved in a movie that Harvey (Weinstein) is really behind.”

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