'Fireflies' alighting all over Europe


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CANNES -- Just 48 hours after wrapping principal photography, the Julia Roberts' starrer "Fireflies in the Garden" has virtually sold out in Europe.

Essential Entertainment signed all rights deals for "Fireflies" in Cannes with Italy's Medusa, Manga in Spain, RCV in Benelux and Nordisk for all of Scandinavia. The Senator International production also locked up several smaller territories, including South Africa for Nu Metro.

"I was in Austin (Texas) on Friday for the last day's shoot, flew to Berlin (Senator's headquarters), then came to Cannes on Saturday," "Fireflies" producer and Senator International head Marco Weber said.

Directed by Dennis Lee and featuring a cast that includes Ryan Reynolds, Willem Dafoe, Emily Watson and Carrie-Anne Moss, "Fireflies" is the first production by Senator International since German parent company Senator Entertainment emerged from insolvency proceedings.

"This film really sets our blueprint for the kind of productions we want to do," Weber said. "We want to be about quality, not quantity."

Senator International is in preproduction on the Bret Easton Ellis adaptation "The Informers," which Gregor Jordan ("Buffalo Soldier") will direct.

English-language productions are the final piece in Senator's rapid post-bankruptcy expansion. Last year, Senator was one of the most active German buyers in Cannes, snatching up such titles as "Son of Rambow," "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Fast Food Nation."

The company has also been bolstering its German production slate. On Sunday, Senator announced it had signed a deal with German art house director Andreas Dresen ("Summer in Berlin") for his next two projects.

Senator has acquired German theatrical rights to Dresen's "Wolke Neun" (Cloud Nine), which reteams the director with "Summer in Berlin" producer Peter Rommel. The story of a woman who begins an affair after 30 years of marriage is set to begin shooting this summer.

After wrapping "Wolke Neun," Dresen will shoot the tragicomedy "Whisky Mit Wodka" (Whiskey With Vodka) as a co-production between Senator Film and Rommel's Peter Rommel productions. "Summer in Berlin" screenwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase will also pen "Whiskey."

Senator plans to release both films in Germany next year.