A-Film makes A-grade deals

Hermeling nabs fest's best

A-Film’s new topper has made a flurry of deals on the Croisette in the last few days.

Pim Hermeling — now CEO of the Benelux distribbery following the exit of former co-head San Fu Maltha — has snapped up rights to some of the market’s hottest titles. They include Focus’ Michel Gondry-Jack Black pic “Be Kind, Rewind”; Summit’s Javier Bardem-starrer “Love in the Time of Cholera”; Trust Film’s Cannes competition film, “Red Road,” from helmer Andrea Arnold; and Fortissimo’s untitled Todd Solondz project.

Maltha’s majority share was bought by investment entity W2 earlier this year and he is focusing on producing through his Fu Works banner. Hermeling holds a 49% stake in A-Film together with Van Landschot bank.

As topper, Hermeling remains in charge of A-Film’s acquisitions as well as the day-to-day operations of the Amsterdam-based outfit, which distributes across all media. (Company shares many titles with Brussels-based Cineart, which handles theatrical for Belgium.)

Dirk De Lille is COO, involved with acquisitions as well as TV deals and Belgian affairs. CFO is Dirk van den Esschert, with Rick Hartman handling video operations. Orange Entertainment’s Mirjam Wertheim, based in Los Angeles, remains A-Films’ exclusive Benelux rep for English-language product.

Hermeling says he’ll continue to focus on what he calls “smart-house movies” — director-driven titles from around the globe that tackle broad-ranging themes.

A-Film has done well with recent titles such as “Brokeback Mountain” and “Match Point, with the B.O. strength of the former pushing A-Film’s market share up to 12% for the first quarter of 2006.

“We didn’t just get big with “The Lord of the Rings,” he said, “but we’ve created a bigger environment for smart-house pictures like ‘The Downfall,’ ‘Talk to Her’ and ‘Lost in Translation.’ ”

Distrib is prepping the June platform release of Cannes competitor “Marie Antoinette,” bowing the week the World Cup soccer tourney begins in Germany. It’s deliberate counter-programming directed at femme auds, and Hermeling expects the pic to have long legs at the Benelux B.O. (Company also has Pedro Almodovar’s Cannes competish pic “Volver” on tap for release.)

A-Film has output deals with Dutch production shingles including kid-pic purveyor Shooting Star, which recently ended its deal with Buena Vista locally; as well as ID-TV, Motel Films and Maltha’s Fu Works. Paul Verhoeven’s “Blackbook,” which was produced by Maltha, is another upcoming A-Film release.

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