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BERLIN EXCLUSIVE: Annapurna Productions Takes Wong Kar-wai's 'Grandmasters' for North America

 The Grandmaster
Courtesty of Berlinale 2011

Megan Ellison is in final negotiations to pick up the rights and to make a significant financial commitment to the movie.

BERLIN -- In a David and Goliath twist for The Grandmasters, Megan Ellison's Annapurna Productions is in the process of beating out several established players to pick up the North American rights to Wong Kar-wai's martial arts epic.

Ellison is in final negotiations to pick up the rights and to make a significant financial commitment to the movie and its marketing. The plan is for Ellison and Wong to partner with a distributor in the coming months.

Grandmasters, starring Tony LeungZhang Ziyi and Chang Chen, is a biopic of famed martial artist Ip Man, who practiced the art of Wing Chun and is best known as the man who taught Bruce Lee. Action sequences were choreographed by Yeun Woo-ping

The movie is still in production but Wong took a break from filming to trek to Berlin, privately showing buyers footage from his epic Friday. (Wild Bunch is selling the film internationally while CAA is handling domestic.)

Ellison, who did not attend Berlin, practiced her own Wing Chun in Berlin to sweep the legs from under Weinstein Co., Fox Searchlight, Sony Pictures Classics and Focus Features, who were in the mix to nab the rights as well.

Wong was won over by Ellison's personal touch and personal commitment to him and the film, which is being bought off of 10 minutes of footage. With the deal that steps off the beaten parth, Wong will now also be partnered with a financier who will have more at stake than a more traditional company.

Annapurna has been making surgical moves to be involved with top talent as the company makes a name for itself as a producer and financier. Ellison was an exec producer on True Grit, and is a producer on The Wettest Country in the World, the Shia LaBeouf-Tom Hardy crime drama selling at EFM.

She recently partnered with Mark Boal and Management 360 to option The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, a New York Times Magazine article on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Annapurna and Wong are repped by CAA.