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Focus frames ‘Lost’ deal at finish of AFM

Market sees registered buyer, seller numbers down

As the American Film Market came to a close Tuesday, Focus Features closed its deal for North American rights on Sofia Coppola’s “Lost in Translation,” which stars Bill Murray and Scarlett Johanssen. Pic is now in post.

Focus now holds worldwide rights on the title, as Focus Intl. acquired foreign rights to the pic just before it began production in September.

The domestic deal left competitors grumbling, as they were being asked to pay $5 million for North America on the basis of a three-minute trailer that screened in Focus’ AFM offices.

Focus, of course, had greater access to footage, if not a tacit first-look deal, by handling the pic’s foreign sales.

“Lost in Translation” is the story of two Americans, an actor and a young woman, who meet in Tokyo and briefly become soulmates.

Coppola and producer Ross Katz (“In the Bedroom”) retained North American rights repped by ICM.

Deal repped a sparky end to a flat AFM. Total attendance at the 2003 American Film Market was 6,827, showing a 1% increase from the 2002 figure of 6,738.

The number of registered buyers and sellers within that figure declined, with buyers down 1.5% and sellers sinking 3.9%. Industry attendees made up the difference, increasing from 922 to 1,114, or 21%.

“Lost in Translation” was one of the few significant North American deals that took place during the weeklong market.

However, a studio deal is anticipated shortly on “If Only,” which stars Jennifer Love Hewitt. Produced by Intermedia, it’s repped by I.S. Film Distribution.

Miramax Films also agreed to give a Stateside release to the South Korean film “Teacher, Mr. Kim,” as part of a deal to give Dimension Films remake rights to the pic about a dishonest schoolteacher. Deal was also significant for being the first presale of a South Korean title.