Cannes: Splendid Scores Titles With Neeson, Willis, Rapace, Bening (Exclusive)

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Noomi Rapace

The German distributor nets four top titles in one of the most aggressive buying sprees of this year's market.

German distributor Splendid Films has gone big in Cannes this year, picking up four buzz titles in a pre-buy spending spree.

Splendid acquired German rights for Liam Neeson-starrer A Willing Patriot from Sierra/Affinity, Precious Cargo starring Bruce Willis from Highland, Annapurna's 20th Century Women featuring Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig and Dakota Fanning, and, from SND, What Happened to Monday, Tommy Wirkola's sci-fi feature starring Noomi Rapace and Glenn Close.

“We were very aggressive this year — we closed most of the deals before the market started; we went in early and made our decisions quickly,” Andreas Klein, CEO of Splendid Films told THR. “It was a great market for us. We'll see how these films perform for us in two years' time.” None of the titles have U.S. distribution on board yet, but Klein said he was confident domestic deals would be forthcoming for all four.

A Willing Patriot — a terrorist-themed thriller from Land of Mine director Martin Zandvliet – and Precious Cargo, a heist film featuring Willis as a professional thief – fit nicely into Splendid's lineup, which has traditionally been action-heavy. The company scored big in Germany with the Expendables franchise. But 20th Century Women, from Beginners director Mike Mills, which follows three generations of women growing up in the 20th century, and What Happened to Monday, with Rapace playing multiple roles as septuplet sisters in a dystopian future, target a much broader, and decidedly more feminine, audience.

“For the past two years we've been changing our strategy. We have been buying films with a wider appeal, ones that skew older and target women as well as men,” says Klein. “In today's market, you can't afford to ignore that audience.”

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