Music Box plays ‘Lisbon’

U.S. picks up an hour after screening

In its second pickup at Berlin, Music Box Films has taken all U.S. rights to Chilean Raul Ruiz’s period drama “Mysteries of Lisbon,” co-produced and sold by Paulo Branco’s Alfama Films.

Music Box bought Liz Garbus’ Sundance documentary “Bobby Fisher Against the World” earlier in the festival.

The “Lisbon” deal closed at Berlin about an hour after a market screening, said Music Box prexy William Schopf. The U.S. pickup also includes “Lisbon’s” six-hour miniseries spinoff.

An opulent 19th century epic melodrama tracing suffering through various generations, “Lisbon” runs 4 1/2 hours with an intermission. It adapts Camilo Castelo Branco’s novel of the same title.

“How many films do you see that are so appealing but have no nudity or violence but whose storytelling carries you through 4 1/2 hours?” Schopf asked.

Bowing at the Toronto festival and winning the director the Silver Shell at San Sebastian, “Mysteries” won the Louis Delluc French critics’ award for film of the year. It has already turned a profit, Branco told Variety.

Modestly budgeted at €2.5 million ($3.4 million) for the feature and TV series, Branco said, “Lisbon” has sold to Gallic paybox Canal Plus. Distribbed by Alfama, “Lisbon” has enjoyed a spirited sustained run in France, grossing about $740,000 in 17 weeks.

Music Box will release “Lisbon” in the top-10 U.S. markets in September or October, Schopf said.

“Lisbon” has sold to the U.K. (New Wave), Spain (Wanda Vision) and Taiwan (Swallow Wings). Japan is close to closing. Alfama distributes in Belgium and Switzerland.