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AFM sees monster deals

Fox acquires rights to BBC Earth's 3D 'Dinosaurs'

Marking one of the American Film Market’s biggest deals in years, 20th Century Fox has snapped up domestic rights and several key territories for BBC Earth’s $65 million family pic “Walking With Dinosaurs 3D” from Stuart Ford’s IM Global.

Walking With Dinosaurs” is now soldout worldwide, only a week after it was announced at AFM. Insiders say it’s safe to say that the presales cover most, if not all, of the film’s budget.

The huge appetite for “Walking With Dinosaurs” points to the overall slowdown in global film production, and the demand for bigger films with commercial appeal, even from the Hollywood majors.”Walking With Dinosaurs 3D” is the largest pact ever closed by IM Global, which is repping worldwide rights to the CGI/live-action hybrid, based on the popular BBC series created by Tim Haines. BBC Earth, Evergreen Films and IM Global parent company Reliance Big Entertainment are backing the production.

In addition to the U.S., Fox nabbed rights for Blighty, France, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Latin America and a slew of other territories, looking to a tentpole release in 2013.

It went to Constantin in Germany, Alliance in Canada and its sister distribution outfit Aurum in Spain and Dutch Film Works for Benelux.

Other projects scoring significant presale biz include Lionsgate’s bigscreen adaptation “Hunger Games,” directed by Gary Ross and produced by Nina Jacobson.

George Clooney’s personal pitch to buyers for his political thriller “The Ides of March” also is paying off, with a number of territories about to close. Clooney directs, produces and stars in the film, which also toplines Ryan Gosling.

Exclusive Media Group and Cross Creek Pictures will finance “Ides” with Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smoke House Pictures and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Prods. Exclusive is handling international sales for the pic while Sony nabbed domestic rights pre-AFM.

Insiders say Andrew Dominik’s Brad Pitt topliner “Cogan’s Trade,” which Inferno is shopping, is almost sold out internationally even though there’s no script. The Weinstein Co. also whipped up buzz, launching the Timur Bekmambetov-produced sci-fi actioner “Apollo 18” over the weekend.

Ford and a string of Fox execs finalized their deal for “Walking With Dinosaurs” over the weekend in Santa Monica.

Fox prexy of production Emma Watts announced the deal with Ford and BBC Worldwide managing director Marcus Arthur.

Neil Nightingale and Pierre De Lespinois are co-directing from a script by John Collee (“Happy Feet”). Film will use live-action footage and CGI creatures to transport families to prehistoric times.

Watts said the BBC franchise is “perfect for a bigscreen event, 3D adaptation. We love it!”

Reliance has a major stake in IM Global, which began quietly shopping the big-budget project to U.S. studios a little over two weeks ago. A number of studios were interested but Fox won out.

“Film is the next big step for this global franchise and we’re creating an incredible cinema experience by combining the BBC’s expertise in natural history with Evergreen Films unique 3D technology. I can’t wait to astound everyone with ‘Walking with Dinosaurs 3D’ on the big screen,” Marcus said.

Ford negotiated the deal on behalf of the filmmakers.

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