Specialist North American video distributor Uncork’d is changing its stripes to become a foreign-language and arthouse player.
The company, headed by Keith Leopard, has recently acquired a slate of Italian-language films from Rai, Minerva Pictures and other sellers. These include Italy’s Oscar submission “Don’t Be Bad” (aka “Non Essere Cattivo”), “They Call Me Jeeg Robot,” which won seven David di Donatello awards in 2016, and LGBT title “Arianna.”
At Cannes the company will be looking to acquire more titles in all-rights deals with a view to controlling the full life cycle of the film, from extended festival play to tight theatrical releases and ancillary markets.
Leopard say the switch from genre films to foreign-language reflects the changes in the North American marketplace. “When there was a DVD market genre films could be inexpensive to acquire and have big profit potential. Nowadays the foreign-language titles hold greater opportunity. That’s because the bigger companies are not acquiring so much of it as before. And even Netflix is scaling back its acquisitions in order to increase its original programming,” Leopard told Variety.
“I know that people will ask what a guy like me is doing with these films, but at heart I’m a product guy,” says Leopard who was previously a buyer at Blockbuster and an executive at former First Look company Millennium Entertainment. “I want to be that distributor that really is an ally to the filmmaker/producer/sales company, that personally works on each movie, reports on time and if there were revenues on the film, pays them on time.”
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“I can’t out-distribute the bigger companies like IFC, but maybe I can out-profit them,” Leopard said.