The sale of the Rocky Mountains-set movie to nine of the dozen biggest markets for international productions marks the first to independent distributors for a big title at this year’s Berlin Film Festival.
“Hard Powder,” which is fully financed and sold by Studiocanal, will be distributed directly by the company in its four home territories: U.K., France, Germany and Australia-New Zealand. The other major licensing deals comprise Italy (Eagle), Spain (A Contracorriente Films), Latin America (Leda Films), China (Bona Films) and Scandinavia (Svensk).
Other territories sold include Benelux (The Searchers), Poland (Monolith), Eastern Europe (Freeman), Greece (Spentzos), Middle East (Salim Ramia), South Africa (Times Media), Indonesia (PT Amero) and Singapore (Shaw).
Japan is in final talks. A number of other territories are still in negotiation, but Anna Marsh, Studiocanal’s head of international film sales, is confident that, apart from North America, “Hard Powder” will be sold out soon after the European Film Market.
“Hard Powder” stars Neeson as a snowplow driver and pillar of his Colorado community whose life is up-ended by his son’s killing at the hands of a powerful local drug lord. The film is written by Frank Baldwin, directed by Hans Petter Moland and produced by “Pulp Fiction’s” Michael Shamberg. It is due to go into production next month, shooting at various locations in Canada.
Although the script was sent to buyers just a week before the Berlinale, international sales were boosted by Neeson and Shamberg’s visit to the EFM, Marsh said. “Together they relayed their passion and confidence in the film,” she said. “They are out to make a broad, commercial movie which will be as fresh as it will be fun.”
Other factors boosted the robust fast-sell: Neeson’s track record in action films: EuropaCorp’s “Taken’s” trilogy and “Non Stop,” also a Studiocanal movie, earned an average $288 million worldwide; the screenplay; producer Michael Shamberg’s credits, taking in “Django Unchained,” “Get Shorty,” “Erin Brockovich” and “Contagion”; Studiocanal’s fully-financing “Hard Powder” means it does not depend on a U.S. deal to go into production.
“Fully-financing allow us time to close the best deals with the best distributors,” said Marsh. “Whilst it is key to get the [U.S.] deal in place early for the release strategy, there is no hard cut-off to close prior to the start of shoot,” she added.
The second lead, a fastidious, vegan local drug kingpin, as well as other roles, is finalizing casting Also, said Marsh, it’s quite rare for films of this scale to be available on the independent market. U.S. distribution interest has benefitted from the international response to the project, Marsh said.