Shanghai: China's Road Pictures Buys Terrence Malick, Pedro Almodovar Cannes Films (Exclusive)

Pain and Glory Still 1 - Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of El Deseo

The growing Beijing-based specialty distributor also picked up Chinese rights to recent Cannes titles ‘The Traitor,’ from Italian filmmaker Marco Bellocchio, and Claude Lelouch's 'The Best Years of a Life.'

Rising Chinese specialty film distributor Road Pictures has locked down Chinese distribution rights for an impressive collection of high-profile titles that debuted at the recent Cannes Film Festival in May.

The Beijing-based company has picked up all China rights to Terrence Malick's WWII drama A Hidden Life, Spanish auteur Pedro Almodovar's Pain and Glory, Marco Bellocchio's mafia biopic The Traitor and French Palme d’Or winner Claude Lelouch's romance The Best Years of a Life.

Negotiation on the deals began during the Cannes Film Festival where each of the titles premiered to considerable critical acclaim.

"Our focus at Road will continue to be releasing high-quality independent movies in China, marking them with a clear strategy and positioning," the company's CEO, Cai Gongming, told The Hollywood Reporter at the Shanghai International Film Festival on Monday.

Road Pictures has secured high-profile screenings for three of its Cannes pickups — Pain and Glory, The Traitor and The Years — at the Shanghai festival, the company's first step in introducing and marketing the prestige titles in the Middle Kingdom.

Cai's productive 2019 Cannes market follows the hat trick his company achieved at the French event in 2018, when it bought the exclusive China rights to Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters, Nadine Labaki’s Jury Prize winner Capernaum and Pawe? Pawlikowski’s acclaimed black-and-white romance Cold War, all of which would go on to be nominated for the foreign-language film Oscar. Cai bought the rights to all three titles before they had received any honors.

Perhaps more impressive, given the regulatory difficulties of China and the developing state of the country’s indie cinema market, Road managed to market and release both of the Cannes winners to enormous theatrical success. Shoplifters opened in China last July, earning $14.1 million (compared with $3.3 million in North America), while Capernaum debuted April 29 and soared to more than $50 million ($1.6 million in North America).