Bullish Euros run the market

Euro distribs buoyed by strong Euro

CANNES -- All the Cannes buyers want "Fame," but "Fame" costs and this is where they start paying.

Lakeshore's musical adaptation of the 1980s TV series about students at New York's Academy of Performing Arts has sparked bidding wars across several territories.

Deals were close across Europe, with Metropolitan in France and Universum in Germany among the local buyers tipped to grab the title.

Buoyed by a strong euro, Continental distributors have been the most aggressive so far for U.S. indie titles here, with Lakeshore, Mandate and Summit fielding a number of apparently tasty titles.

Summit's "Tree of Life," from director Terrence Malik, already may have closed for France, with EuropaCorp. the likely buyer.

Mandate apparently has several offers on the table for Drew Barrymore's directorial debut "Whip It," which has Ellen Page attached to star.

"It's pretty early days but we are going to sit down and start strategizing on the offers we have," Mandate International president Helen Lee Kim told THR.

As for other English-lingo titles not necessarily American-produced, StudioCanal's sci-fi thriller "Babylon A.D." has sold to Moviemax in Italy and Concorde in Germany. Mars Distribution secured French rights to Tommy Lee Jones' Ernest Hemingway adaptation "Islands in the Stream," which Intandem is selling.

"There's product in the market for the kind of films we're after," said Mars head Stephane Celerier, who also acquired Darren Aronofsky's "The Wrestler" just prior to Cannes.

Berlin-based A Company picked up several titles for Russia and Eastern Europe, including Lionsgate's "Saw 5," Emir Kusturica's "Maradona" doc and Omega's Betty Anne Waters biopic starring Hilary Swank. Halcyon Pictures has U.K. rights to Julie Delpy's "The Countess," sold by Celluloid Dream.

U.S. buyers may not be opening their wallets as readily as the Europeans, but titles attracting interest for deals Stateside include James Toback's boxer docu "Tyson" and Charlie Kaufman's surreal "Synecdoche, New York".

The animated war drama "Waltzing with Bashir" and the triptych "Tokyo!" are generating slow-burn talks among smaller indie buyers.

"There are some international films worth distribution, but given the uncertainty in the U.S. marketplace, the deals will take a while to happen," Roadside Attractions co-president Howard Cohen said.

But IFC Films snapped up Oliver Assayas' Juliette Binoche starrer "Summer Hours" from MK2 and the Russian coming-of-age drama "Mermaid" from Central Partnership.

Strand Releasing has acquired U.S. rights to Anthony Byrne's comedy "How About You" starring Vanessa Redgrave and Imelda Staunton.

Hot Asian titles at Cannes include "The Chaser," which is being sold by Korea's Finecut, CJ Entertainment's "The Good, the Bad and the Weird" and John Woo's "Red Cliff," repped by Summit.

"There have been a lot of very enthusiastic buyers. I was expecting a continuation of what happened in Toronto and Sundance, but it's been crushing," Unified Pictures CEO Keith Kjarval said.

"There seem to be fewer people, but those that are here have a very clear idea of what they are looking for," said Barcelona-based Filmax's Carlos Rojano.

Gregg Goldstein, Pamela Rolfe, Rebecca Leffler, Charles Masters and Liza Foreman contributed to this report.
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