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Cannes dealmaking picks up steam

Weinstein Co. leads U.S. spending spree

Cannes dealmaking has picked up steam, with key U.S. rights deals continuing the buying frenzy seen at Sundance, Berlin and SXSW.

Lionsgate snatched up North American rights for “The Hunters,” a French psychological thriller toplining Steven Waddington (“Largo Winch”) and Dianna Agron (“Glee”).

IFC Films has acquired North American rights to Olivier Assayas’ “Something in the Air,” his upcoming follow-up to Cannes 2010 standout and Golden Globe-winning “Carlos.”

Sony Pictures Classics has snapped up North American and Latin American rights to Joseph Cedar’s competition entry “Footnote.”

SPC plays ‘Footnote’

IFC catches ‘Air’

Lionsgate on ‘Hunters’

Buyers in the mix so far include Sony Pictures Classics, Open Road, FilmDistrict and IFC. But it’s the Weinstein Co. that is perhaps tossing around the most coin, picking up Meryl Streep’s “The Iron Lady,” plus competition pics, the silent “The Artist” and martial-arts epic “Dragon” (“Wu xia”), which preems today.

The film was presented Friday by the pic’s first-time helmer, Chris Briant, at Film France Commission’s Cannes’ Talents and Territories Q&A.

Produced by Thomas Malmonte and Antoine Huet at Humal Prods, “The Hunters” follows five ordinary guys who get together on a hunting preserve and cross paths with an army vet-turned-manhunter.

The $3.5 million suspenser was mainly shot in Lorraine, where the filmmakers were able to raise a substantial portion of the budget from local business owners.

Pic is repped by Canadian outfit Raven Banner Ent. in international markets, while U.S. rights were handled by Preferred Content.

Deal sees IFC snapping up one of the potentially prime arthouse properties at this year’s Cannes market.

Produced and distributed in France and sold internationally by Nathanael Karmitz-headed MK2 in Paris, “Air” has also been bought for Germany by NFP.

Set in the early ’70s, and semi-autobiographical according to Assayas, “Air” revolves around a Paris high school student torn between artistic ambitions and politics.

He said the film would be lighter than “Carlos,” the five hour, 33-minute miniseries/feature film charting the rise and fall of ’70s terrorist Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, which was critically acclaimed at last year’s Cannes.

Pic, which was bought from Blighty-based sales outfit and financier WestEnd Films in a pre-emptive bid before the pic’s official preem today, follows the rivalry between a father and his son, their need for each other and desire for respect and recognition in the world.

Deal was brokered by West-End and Cedar’s agents ICM.

John Hopewell and Diana Lodderhose contributed to this report.