‘Aviator’ on TF1’s radar

Pic furthers Gallic-Miramax pact

Taking their year-old French distribution partnership a significant step further, Miramax and leading Gallic web TF1 have co-acquired French rights to “The Aviator” and “I’m Not Scared” and are hatching plans to co-produce other projects.

Launched at Cannes last year, their joint venture, TFM, has to date only been a single pipeline via which the companies theatrically distributed their own movies separately. As part of the deal, TF1 also aired Miramax’s films on its terrestrial web and handled French video releases.

That will change with the release next year of the Italo-Spanish co-production Gabriele Salvatores’ “I’m not Scared,” which was jointly acquired by Miramax chief operations officer Rick Sands and TF1 film topper Patrick Binet at the Berlin Film Festival.

Miramax is partnering with Warner Bros. on “Aviator,” about Howard Hughes.

“It has taken us time to get to know each other but now we are doing fabulously together and we’re ready to take our partnership to the next level,” Sands says. “We’re looking to do as much together as we can.

“TF1 is a terrific partner and they understand the American way of doing business.”

Although the first Miramax releases did not perform as well in France as in some other European territories, the joint venture has notched up more than a million admissions with “Chicago.”

Binet says: “We’ve spent the last year setting up the operation. Now it’s time to co-produce together. I think we understand each other’s language.”

Before joining TF1 last year, Binet rose to prominence at UGC Intl., where he spearheaded the international marketing of the worldwide blockbuster “Amelie.”

Both Miramax and TF1 will continue to release their own pics via TFM, which is now headed by former UIP topper Jean-Paul Rougier, at the rate of some 35 films a year, of which two-thirds are Miramax titles. An unspecified number of co-acquisitions will be made “on a film-by-film basis,” Sands says.

“We are also looking at buying French movies to distribute. It is an all-encompassing partnership and we are looking for ways to expand it.”

Commenting on the relationship with one of Europe’s most powerful private webs, Sands says: “Television is such an important aspect of the revenue stream, and local independents have difficulties selling to broadcasters.”

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