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Optimum unveils high-profile buys

New acquisitions include Hanks' 'Larry Crowne'

U.K. distrib Optimum Releasing, which is owned by pan-European film group StudioCanal, announced a slew of fresh acquisitions on Thursday repping big-star pics to niche titles.

First up is Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts starrer “Larry Crowne,” a comedy-drama about a middle-aged man who reinvents himself by going back to college.

Distrib also picked up rights to Sundance hit “Animal Kingdom,” starring Guy Pearce. In Toronto, Optimum snapped up Francois Ozon’s comedy “Potiche,” starring Catherine Deneuve, Gerard Depardieu. Pic, acquired from Wild Bunch, unspooled at the Venice and Toronto fests earlier this month. Based on Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Gredy’s hit play, the 1977-set satirical comedy sees a trophy housewife morph into an assertive factory manager and member of parliament. Music Box is releasing pic in U.S.

Two further Toronto acquisitions include Vincent Cassel starrer “Our Day Will Come,” and Luis Tosar and Sonia Braga starrer “Lope.”

“Our Day,” the debut feature from music video helmer Romain Gavras, follows two outcast redheads who embark on a destructive and raging roadtrip. Pic, which also preemed in Toronto, was acquired by TF1 International.

Lope,” picked up through Wild Bunch, is helmed by Andrucha Waddington and chronicles the life of Lope de Vega, the Spanish playwright who dominated Spain’s golden age of theater.

Distrib has also nabbed the rights to Mexico’s Oscar entry for best foreign pic “Biutiful,” starring Javier Bardem, Maricel Alvarez and Eduard Fernandez. Pic, for which Bardem nabbed best actor prize in Cannes, is about a tragic hero and father of two who can connect with the dead. Pic was acquired through CAA and is skedded for a January 2011 U.K. release, following a gala screening at the London Film Festival.

Optimum is riding a strong year both in box office and production activities. The distrib-shingle recently announced the start of shoot of Working Title production “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” starring Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy and Colin Firth, which is being fully financed by StudioCanal.

Daniel Stamm’s “The Last Exorcism” gave the distrib its biggest ever three-day opening in Blighty in early September, taking £1.1 million ($1.7 million).

The shingle’s current slate of Brit productions includes Rowan Joffe’s “Brighton Rock,” “Submarine” – which sold to the Weinstein Company domestically in Toronto – “Attack the Block,” “The Awakening” “Rafta Rafta” and Paddy Considine’s directorial feature debut “Tyrannosaur.”

Distrib will release its biggest title to date, Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie starrer “The Tourist,” in December.

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