Cannes 2012: SquareOne Ups Its Game With Two More Purchases

Al Munteanu P 2012

Ten-year-old German distributor pushes for mini-major status with Cannes buys "Grace of Monaco," "Still of Night."

BERLIN – German distributor SquareOne Entertainment, which turns 10 this year, is taking its operations to the next level with several big title purchases at this year’s Cannes Marche du Film.

SquareOne nabbed all rights in Germany and Austria to Michelle Monaghan-starrer Still of Night, director Jonathan Mostow’s homage to his 1997 action classic Breakdown, from Exclusive and to Grace of Monaco, the biopic starring Nicole Kidman as Grace Kelly from Inferno. Ahead of Cannes, SquareOne picked up another A-list title: the romantic caper Love Punch starring Pierce Brosnan and Emmy Thompson, which Joel Hopkins (Last Chance Harvey) is directing and which SquareOne acquired from the film’s French co-producers SND.

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“These kinds of films – big mainstream movies – are what we are focusing on now,” SquareOne founder and president Al Munteanu told THR. “We want to take our company to the next level as a theatrical distributor in Germany and there is no niche market anymore, it’s all popcorn movies.”

SquareOne started as a buyer of home entertainment and TV rights for the German market but it has been acquiring theatrical projects for several years now. In 2010 the Munich-based company raised its game via a new theatrical cooperation with German mini-major Universum, as the two companies jointly released box office hit StreetDance 3D. Another mainstream hit followed this year with SquareOne and Universum’s release of British gross-out comedy The Inbetweeners Movie. Under its exclusive distribution deal with Universum, SquareOne handles marketing for all its films, while Universum takes care of booking and billing.

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SquareOne’s commercial success has allowed it to plow its profits back into production. Munteanu has been an active equity investor in new projects, joining forces with London-based Vertigo Films as a co-producer on the next StreetDance film and co-developing and producing the upcoming remakes of Jerry Lewis’ comedies The Family Jewels, Cinderfella, The Errand Boy and Whose Minding The Store. SquareOne also has an option to remake four more Lewis films, including the classic The Bellboy.

“We are going to start with The Family Jewels,” Munteanu said. “The Lewis films will be big mainstream comedies with name stars.”

The German market is one of the most competitive in the world, but Munteanu isn’t shying away from going toe-to-toe with the territory’s big players.

“I don’t think in this business it’s really about who has the deepest pockets,” he said.

In ten years, SquareOne has gone from start-up to established players in arguably the most crowded market in Europe. Going forward, it hopes to stand out even further from that crowd.