Cautious optimism as Filmart winds up

Deals done for Universe's 'Warriors,' CJ 's 'Haeundae'

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HONG KONG -- In a market characterized by caution in tough economic times, a flurry of mostly intra-Asian deals closed Wednesday at Hong Kong Filmart, led by Universe Films' sale of all India and Philippines rights to the Pang brothers' $14.6 million film "The Storm Warriors" to PT Parkit Co.

Universe also sold PT the Singapore and Malaysia rights to Benny Chan's $10 million picture "City on Alert."

Korean heavyweight CJ Entertainment, meanwhile, closed deals for its big-budget disaster movie "Haeundae," including presale with Indonesia's Visicom Surya that covers the rights for Malaysia and Singapore as well as the home territory. Indo Overseas has taken the film, along with "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" for India. CJ also inked an agreement for "Members of the Funeral" with Australia's SBS TV.

At the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, Winnie Tsang, managing director of Hong Kong's Golden Scene, said that signing deals took longer than normal this year and there have been fewer presales.

"Everyone is taking longer to consider, to wait and see," Tsang said.

Many buyers from territories whose currencies have dropped against Asian markets were found to be pinching pennies. Buyers from Mexico, Brazil and Russia, for instance, cannot afford to buy what they might have last year, said Fabien Westerhoff of London-based HanWay Films.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Mega Vision sold the remake rights to Keung Kwok-man's "Bullet and Brain" to an undisclosed U.S. independent studio and Indonesia's Rapi Films sold the video rights to a package of 11 horror titles to Thailand's GMM International. Rapi also sold the theatrical rights to "Ghost Train" to Taiwanese cinema operator Long Shong Group.

Rapi executive Gope Samtani reflected on his company's luck, noting that when the economy was stronger last year, they'd completed no sales, while "this year there is financial trouble all around the world, but we managed to have sales. So it really depends on the right product."

Japanese independent Hexagon said it has closed a deal for China on "Kana's Big Success" and is close to a number of Asian pacts for "High Kick Girl!" which has been generating a lot of buzz through the market.

"Filmart has been good for a smaller company like us this year, only our second year at the market," Hexagon's Megumi Fukuda said.

Thailand's Phranakorn Films sold all rights in Taiwan and Hong Kong for slasher title "Meat Grinder" to Taiwan's Deep Joy Entertainment. While Thailand's Right Beyond sold TV and video rights for "Diamond Eye" and "Mr. Tim Muay Thai Fighter" to Hungary's Paradigma Film as well as video rights for "King Cobra" and "Black Panther" to NSR of Malaysia.

Shanghai-based Tooncool Digital sold the animated series "Mushrooom Diandian" to Thailand's Mahakit Global Plus for five-year TV rights, two-year DVD rights, one-year merchandise rights and one-year promotional rights. Also sold were one-year TV rights to Kinotour Studio of Ukraine.

China's Hairun Movies & TV sold all rights for "To Live and Love" and "Dancing Girl" to Hong Kong-based Arnos Digital.

Karen Chu and Gavin J. Blair contributed to this report.
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