Cannes 2012: Buyers Get Early Jump on Market

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More and more, dealmaking is underway before a film market even starts.

That trend is abundantly apparent this year in Cannes, where several major pacts were closed prior to the official launch of the Marche du Film on Thursday.

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On Tuesday, two key deals were announced for IM Global and Alliance Films’ Ends of the Earth, with CBS Films snapping up domestic rights and Sony Pictures Acquisitions buying rights to multiple international territories.

SPA, a major market force these days, picked up rights in markets including German-speaking Europe, Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Italy, Australia/New Zealand, Latin America and South Africa.

Ends of the Earth is from Automatik, the production and film financing joint-venture backed by IM Global and Alliance. Alliance holds rights to Ends of the Earth in Canada, the U.K. and Spain.

The movie, which is being shot in Europe, is described as having elements of Lost Boys and Chronicle and features both found footage and narrative styles to tell the tale of two best friends traveling through Europe. They encounter what is described as an “impossible phenomenon” that changes their lives.

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The film is co-written and co-directed by Derek Lee and Clif Prowse and features a cast of up-and-comers. IM Global’s Stuart Ford, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones and Alliance’s Charles Layton are exec producing. Telefilm Canadia provided backing.

Automatik, headed by Kavanaugh-Jones, acquired worldwide rights to the movie after seeing a promo circulated by the filmmakers’ reps at Verve.

There are a raft of other Cannes titles that have closed deals with key distributors from around the globe in recent days, with one buyer quipping, “the market will be over by the weekend.”

“All the big distributors from Germany head to L.A. two weeks before Cannes and have their pitch meetings,” said Martin Moszkowicz, head of film and television at German indie giant Constantin Film, which was one of the few international buyers that did not pick up any titles ahead of the Cannes market.” “They go back, get their budgets approved and everything sorted and by the time Cannes starts, the real business is pretty well over.”

Also on Tuesday, Universal Pictures International announced it has bought rights to Kathryn Bigelow’s U.S. Navy SEALs pic in multiple territories, including the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Scandinavia, South Africa and Spain. Sony Pictures releases the film, about the hunt for Osama bin Laden, stateside on Dec. 19.

Megan Ellison financed and produced Bigelow’s untitled film through her Annapurna Pictures, while her new sales company Panorama, headed by Kim Fox, is debuting the project to foreign buyers at Cannes. But with a deal already in place between Universal International and Panorama, many territories aren’t even available.

The cast includes Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Fares Fares, Jason Clarke and Mark Strong.

Another project heading into Cannes with a significant deal in place is Intrepid Pictures’ Oculus. FilmDistrict has picked up domestic rights to the film, directed by Mike Flanagan and based on his acclaimed short film of the same name.

Intrepid’s Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans are producing and fully financing Oculus, which Focus Features International is debuting to foreign buyers in Cannes. Intrepid’s Anil Kurian will executive produce.

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