You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Witching & Bitching’ Sells Half of World (EXCLUSIVE)

Movie regarded as a return to form and origins by San Sebastian press

SAN SEBASTIANAlex de la Iglesia’s “Witching & Bitching,” the latest film from a director who helped change the face of Spanish filmmaking, has sold out half the world with key major territories under negotiation.

Spain’s Film Factory closed the foreign sales deals.

World premiering at the Toronto Festival, and then segueing to San Sebastian for its European debut – a now common one-two act between the two confabs – “Witching & Bitching” bowed Sunday at the Spanish festival, where it was received with applause.

A common take, at least among the Spanish press, was “Witching” reps a return to De la Iglesia’s early comedies.

Set in a totally recognizable Madrid for cognoscenti, and loaded with local referents, De la Iglesia’s second movie, 1995’s horror comedy “The Day of the Beast,” was one of the first modern Spanish films to yoke a Spanish comedy tradition, standard genre and American pacing.

In “Witching,” a gaggle of male ne’er-do-wells pull a Madrid heist, then flee towards France, only to fall into the maws of local witches at Navarre’s Zugarramurdi, its millennium-old center of occult activities.

“Witching” is stepped in local customs, De la Iglesia said Sunday at San Sebastian.

Nevertheless, it has closed about 40 territories outside Spain, in near-to-20 pre-sales deals.

In major pacts, Laurent Danielou’s Rezo will distribute in France, Splendid Film in Germany, Shochiku in Japan, Carmen Films in Russia, Alfa in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay and Alebrije/Quality in Mexico.

In Russia, where star Mario Casas is a major sex symbol, Carmen Films will bow “Witching & Bitching” Oct. 17 on 300-plus screens, said Film Factory founder Vicente Canales.

Medyavision has bought Turkey, MCF Serbia Montenegro, Star Films Bolivia Peru Ecuador, and ZON Lusomundo Portugal.

The U.S. and U.K. are under negotiation, Canales said.

“Witching” is produced by Spain’s Enrique Cerezo P.C. Its French co-producer, La Ferme!, struck the deal with Rezo for France.

“The reception of the film has been excellent from the beginning. This is Alex de la Iglesia at his most commercial, the film which has sold most and best since ‘The Oxford Murders,’” Canales commented.

Turning on the war of sexes and love as a power relationship, “Witching” reprises “The Day of the Beast’s” set-up of a horror comedy laced by action scenes. But it ups the ante on special effects.

A climactic scene with a 15-meter monster “could well be the most ambitious scene shot by a Spanish production house,” De la Iglesia said.

“The more local and personal a film, the more it details local customs, the stronger the film. You get the sensation that what you’re watching belongs to somebody’s world,” he added.

Pre-sales on “Witching” seem to bear De la Iglesia out.

More Film

  • Nicole Holofcener: 'Can You Ever Forgive

    Nicole Holofcener: 'Can You Ever Forgive Me?' Director Was Cheated Out of an Oscar Nomination

    “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” screenwriter Nicole Holofcener offered a blunt assessment of the lack of Academy Awards recognition for director Marielle Heller, and women directors everywhere. “I feel Marielle was cheated and I feel badly about that,” Holofcener said backstage after winning a Spirit Award for screenplay with Jeff Whitty. Holofcener was originally attached [...]

  • Stephan James as Fonny and Brian

    2019 Indie Spirit Awards Winners: Complete List

    The 2019 Independent Spirit Awards took place on a beach in Santa Monica, Calif., with Barry Jenkins’ “If Beale Street Could Talk” taking the top prize for best feature along with best director for Jenkins. Ethan Hawke and Glenn Close took the prizes for best male lead and best female lead, respectively. Bo Burnham took [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Hated It! How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Gripe About the Oscars

    Watching the Academy Awards telecast, then grousing about it the next day, has become a hipster parlor game — it’s what the Complete Oscar Experience now is. The complaints are legion, and we all know what they are, because we’ve all made them. The show was too long. The host bombed. His or her opening [...]

  • Boots Riley arrives at the 34th

    Boots Riley: Spike Lee Yelled at Me After 'BlacKkKlansman' Criticism, But We're Good Now

    “Sorry to Bother You” director and musician Boots Riley, who wrote a scathing criticism of Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” for its positive representation of law enforcement, said that he and the “Do the Right Thing” auteur are good now. But it took some time (and drama) to get there. Last year, Riley called Lee’s Oscar-nominated “BlacKkKlansman” [...]

  • Dr. Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali, right)

    Read Variety's 1957 Review of 'Green Book' Pianist Don Shirley

    “Green Book” viewers who are not totally versed in the ways of ’50s and ’60s jazz may come away from the heavily Oscar-nominated movie wondering just how well known and respected the film’s central musical figure, Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali), really was in his heyday. The answer: revered enough to have picked up [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content