Paramount sets up acquisitions arm

Matt Brodlie to lead group

LONDON — Paramount Pictures has announced the creation of the Paramount Worldwide Acquisitions Group, a centralized acquisitions and local productions arm that will service the operations of Paramount Pictures Intl. and Paramount Vantage.

Matt Brodlie, Vantage’s senior VP of production and acquisitions, will lead the newly formed group under exec VP of production and acquisition Guy Stodel, who will in turn report to PPI prexy Andrew Cripps and Paramount Vantage prexy Nick Meyer.

PWAG will be responsible for acquiring films as well as seeking out co-production opportunities and local production projects in territories where PPI already has direct distribution networks. That would include the U.K., France, Spain, Australia, Japan and Latin America.

“This development gives us the opportunity to leverage a solid existing infrastructure to service the studio’s acquisition needs on a global level,” said Cripps and Meyer in a joint statement. “As the international marketplace continues to grow, this allows us the ideal structure to expand our activity in this area while fully utilizing the skill set of the accomplished team we have in place.”

PPI has been ramping up its international activities since the break-up in January 2007 of UIP, its partnership with Universal Pictures.

Par will release the forthcoming Simon Pegg starrer “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The acquisitions team invested coin into the project at development stage to help the project, based on Toby Young’s bestselling account of his disastrous stint working at Vanity Fair

In Japan, Par is negotiations to co-finance and distribute a remake of “Ghost” with producer Taka Ichise.

In Australia, Paramount has formed a specialized distribution joint venture, Transmission, run by Andrew Mackie and Richard Payten, which will release between eight-10 features a year. The company recently released “Painted Veil” and has Viggo Mortensen starrer “Good,” “My Talks with Dean Spanley,” starring Peter O’Toole, Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam and Bryan Brown, “Road Movie,” starring Paul Hogan and Shane Jacobsen, and “Salute,” a docu about the 1968 Olympics, all in the pipeline.

Par has also acquired “The Bank Job” for its forthcoming Australian release with producer Omnilab and has inked a deal with MTV Australia to develop projects for Paramount Australia. One project currently being developed is an un-titled laffer.

In Mexico, Par has pre-bought Latin American rights to “Backyard,” by helmer Carlos Carrera, whose previous pic “El crimen del padre Amaro” is the highest grossing Mexican film of all time.

In Brazil, Par financed and will distribute Bruno Barreto’s “Last Stop 174” this year and is also putting up coin and distribbing “Supreme Happiness” by Brazilian helmer Arnaldo Jabor, and “Aparecida” by Rogerio Gomes.

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