MADRID — In a bellwether deal, Jean Labadie’s Le Pacte, one of France’s most distinguished independent distributors, has secured French distribution rights to “Campeones,” directed by Academy Award-nominated Javier Fesser (“Binta and the Great Idea”).
Sold by Madrid-based Latido Films and produced by Spain’s Morena Films (“Altamira,” “Cell 211,” “Comandante”), Telefonica pay TV division Movistar + (“Tadeo Jones 2,” “Dragonkeeper”) and Fesser’s Películas Pendleton, “Campeones” has already tied down a Spanish distribution deal with Universal Pictures Intl. (UPI), whose releases include some of the biggest Spanish comedies ever.
Founded by Labadie in 2007, Le Pacte plays off a mix of big name auteur titles (Jim Jarmusch’s “Paterson,” Ken Loach’s “I, Daniel Blake”), films from on-the-rise French talent (such as Thomas Lilti, whose “Irreplaceable“ sold 1.5 million tickets last year) and foreign-language fare.
Le Pacte’s “Campeones’” acquisition rolls off a first-three week 151, 408 admissions (some $1.2 million in gross box office) from an Aug. 9 bow for the Le Pacte-released “May God Save Us,” Spaniard Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s harrowing Madrid-set serial killer procedural which is another Latido Films title. The result puts it on track to become by a head Le Pacte’s biggest non-French title to date in 2017.
Spaniard Alberto Rodriguez’s Goya winner “Marshland” sold over 324,000 theatre tickets (about $2.5 million in gross B.O.) in 2015 for Le Pacte. Any single territory box office of over $1 million is these days reckoned a notable result for a foreign-language film.
Mining Spain’s rich comedy tradition – comic-books, the choral humor and incorrigible individuals of Luis G. Berlanga – over two decades Fesser has directed four features, a string of shorts and a medium-feature that often suggest a large sympathy for marginalized minorities.
A “comedy shot like a drama” and “an attempt at reinvention,” shot directly without the stylistic flourishes of much of Fesser’s comedy work, “Campeones” turns on an assistant coach in Spain’s top ACB basketball league whose frustrations lead him to brawl with the head coach, get drunk, crash his car and end up in court, where he is sentenced to social work employing his basketful coaching skills. The sentence proves his salvation.
“There are companies whose interest in a film talks very highly of that film. This is the case of Le Pacte and someone like Jean Labadie,” said Antonio Saura, director of Latido Films.
He added: “‘Campeones’ is a funny, charming, beautiful story, and Le Pacte’s involvement in it in at such an early stage of production gives us at Latido and the producers Alvaro Longoria of Morena Films and Luis Manso of Películas Pendleton a boost of confidence that we are on the right track with this fantastic project.”