GreeneStreet sets int’l sales arm

New head Jeanson touting 'Burn,' 'Yes'

GreeneStreet Films is testing the waters with two key projects in Cannes this year, in preparation for the full launch of the New York-based indie stable’s inhouse international sales division. Unit is expected to coalesce gradually in the coming months.

A fully financed division of GreeneStreet that will operate as a separate company, the sales arm is tentatively being dubbed GreeneStreet Films Intl., and will be headed by Cedric Jeanson. The former Miramax Intl. exec VP joined GreeneStreet two years ago, becoming a third partner with company co-founders John Penotti and Fisher Stevens.

“The formation of this new division came at a point where we realized that to keep growing and be successful, we needed to be a little more proactive not only in production but also in the international distribution of our films,” Jeanson told Variety.

In Cannes this year, Jeanson is drumming up awareness of the company’s two lead projects with international distribs, as well as closing selected presales. Those pics are Wayne Beach’s cop thriller “Slow Burn,” with Ray Liotta and LL Cool J; and Sally Potter’s romantic drama “Yes,” with Joan Allen, Simon Abkarian and Sam Neill.

Potter’s film recently shifted locations from London and Belfast to the Dominican Republic and will be completed in November following some additional shooting in New York. “Slow Burn” will start shooting July 9 in Montreal, with other key cast to be announced in the coming days.

“Our primary mission is to handle sales on our own productions overseas,” Jeanson says. “But in order to create more clout and volume, we will tie this activity into acquisitions for international, as well as going into co-production and co-financing of projects and split-rights deals with studios.”

While Jeanson says the priority in Cannes has been to familiarize buyers with the new sales structure and not to close deals given that footage is not yet available, distribution pacts were sealed for both projects in Russia, Israel and Greece, with negotiations expected to wrap soon for Scandinavia and Iceland. Offers also are on the table for Australia, Switzerland and Brazil.

GreeneStreet expects to greenlight two more features to start production before the end of the year and one more by spring 2004. Additionally, the company is preparing initial projects from its newly formed cutting-edge horror division Raw Nerve (Variety Cannes Show Daily, May 19), which also will be sold through the sales arm. The company is moving ahead with casting and attaching directors and expects to announce new project details soon.

“We have a very busy production slate with quite an interesting mix of genres and budget ranges, from mainstream comedies to low-budget horror to a metaphysical thriller,” Jeanson says.

“Buyers have been very receptive here to this new entity,” he adds. “What GreeneStreet can offer is that it’s a company with a strong reach to talent, it’s well financed and has the kind of respected production expertise that allows us to be very cost-effective on our projects.”

GreeneStreet is readying “Uptown Girls” with Brittany Murphy and Dakota Fanning for U.S. release in August via MGM, which has worldwide rights. Pic was directed by Boaz Yakin, who heads the Raw Nerve operation. Previous films financed and produced by GreeneStreet include “Swimfan,” “Pinero” and “In the Bedroom.”

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