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Studiocanal to Introduce ‘Russian Spy,’ ‘Sink or Swim,’ ‘The Little Witch’ at Cannes (EXCLUSIVE)

European giant Studiocanal unveils first new titles on its Cannes slate with further announcements still to be made

PARIS — Signaling at least part of its Cannes line-up, Vivendi-owned Studiocanal, Europe’s biggest film group, will introduce “The Tracking of a Russian Spy,” from Nima Nourizadeh (“Project X”), at this year’s Cannes Film Market. Fruit of Studiocanal’s cornerstone U.S. production relationship with The Picture Company’s Andrew Rona and Alex Heineman, production on the title is already announced. What was not so certain was when Studiocanal would initiate its sales campaign.

With more announcements yet to come as the European powerhouse, like so many commonages this year, looks t be gong down to the wire in unveils, Studiocanal’s slate will also introduce to buyers Gilles Lellouche’s “Sink or Swim,” Mike Shaerer’s “The Little Witch,” and Tarek Boudali’s “Marry Me, Dude.”

Now firmly established as one of Cannes’ strongest sales slates, offering fully-financed international movies and a pick of  French and German movies to risk-averse international distributors, Studiocanal’s slate will also take in some of its biggest sales hits which are very near to having sold out worldwide.

Brought onto the market at Berlin, Liam Neeson’s “Hard Powder” just has three territories to sell. “Paddington 2,” the David Heyman-produced sequel to Studiocanal’s highest-grossing movie ever, will roll out from Nov. 10 in the U.K. The Philippines – and nowhere else – is still available. Nick Park’s awaited “Early Man,” from the U.K.’s legendary Aardman Animations, is also sold out worldwide, apart from nine territories, none bigger than South Korea and CIS.

Starring Logan Lerman (“Fury”) and Olivia Cooke (“Me and Early and the Dying Girl”), “The Tracking of a Russian Spy” adapts journalist Mitch Senson’s memoir of his secret romance with a beautiful Russian woman, Anastasia, he met in a New York nightclub. She suddenly disappears after the arrest of 10 Russian-Americans on charges of spying for the Kremlin.

In a perplexed attempt to find his love, or ascertain whether it was love, Swenson flies to Moscow to try to find “Anastasia.” But his search leads him down a rabbit hole of intrigue and shadow government operations deep within Russia, the film’s synopsis runs.

“The Tracking of a Russian Spy” has “a young and fresh cast,” said Anne Cherel, Studiocanal head of intl. sales, current films.

Accompanied by Rona and Heineman, Nourizadeh will attend Cannes to explain his vision for the movie, penned by Chris Salmanpour, including “his ambitions to reinvent the genre, as he did on ‘American Ultra’ and ‘Project X,’” Cherel added.

Produced by Alain Attal’s prestigious Paris-based Les Productions du Trésor (“Little White Lies”) and Chi-Fou-Mi Productions, “Sink or Swim” packs a star-spangled French ensemble cast – Mathieu Amalric (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”), Guillaume Canet (“Next Time I’ll Aim For the Heart”), and Virginie Efira, just cast in Paul Verhoeven’s “Blessed Virgin.” Actor-turned-occasional director Lellouche’s first directorial outing after a short in “The Players,” the drama-comedy turns on a motley bunch of 40-year-old men who find a sanctuary from mid-life crisis and new zest for life forming a synchronized swimming team.

Reuniting Studiocanal and Germany’s Claussen + Putz Filmproduktion, the production team behind local and international hit “Heidi,” which notched up some 703,154 admissions in France, over $5 million, Mike Schaerer’s “The Little Witch” stars Karoline Herfurth (“Fack Ju Göhte”. It is based on a German best-seller from Otfried Preussler about an up-and-coming witch who, only 127 years-old, still has to demonstrate her white magic chops to her elders.

Having scored Studiocanal’s biggest ever box office in France for “Alibi.com” which sold 3.6 million tickets at the French box office earlier this year, Studiocanal will distribute and sell buddy comedy “Marry Me, Dude,” the directorial debut of “Alibi.com” and “Babysitting 2’s” co-star, Tarek Boudali, about a Moroccan male student in Paris who stages a fake wedding with best Fred in order to stay in France.

Of prestige titles on Studiocanal’s Cannes slate, Cedric Klapisch’s family vineyard drama, “Back to Burgundy,” is building into one of France’s most anticipated summer titles, having sold most of the world. It is set for a June 14 release.

Studiocanal will also continue to sell Mike Newell’s “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” starring Lily James (“Cinderella”) in a post World War II romantic drama adapting the New York Times best-seller which has sold 7.5 million copies in 37 territories.

A large hit with buyers, “Gauguin,” starring Vincent Cassel as the jaded French painter who sets sail for Tahiti in search of inspiration and his soul, will receive a wide French release on Sept. 27.

Among eight screenings, Studiocanal will also present “Madame,” produced by Paris-based LGM Films, directed by Amanda Sthers (“You’ll Miss Me”) and starring Toni Collette (“Little Miss Sunshine”) as a American society hostess who attempts to thwart the budding romance between her maid (“Rossy de Palma) and a dandy British artworker (“Michael Smiley”).

Studiocanal will also screen animated feature “The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales,” a three-fable drama comedy reuniting Studiocanal and the producer (Didier Brunner) and co-director (Benjamin Renner) of “Ernest & Celestine.” If it is as exquisite as “Ernest & Celestine,” distributed in the U.S. by Gkids and nominated for an Academy Award, buyers will be in for a treat.

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