Magnolia cages 'Tiger' in U.S.


NEW YORK -- After collecting dust Miramax Films' shelves for five years, Wisit Sasanatieng's Thai action film "Tears of the Black Tiger" will be unleashed in the U.S. by Magnolia Pictures.

The studio nabbed all domestic rights to the acclaimed "Tiger" from Miramax, which bought the rights to the film in North America, Latin America and South America and other territories shortly after it became the first Thai film to appear In Competition at the 2001 Festival de Cannes.

"Tiger" is just one of dozens of films that the Daniel Battsek-led Miramax inherited from the company's previous heads Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who had gone on a buying spree of mainly Asian martial arts movies. Miramax holds theatrical rights to handful of those films, which it plans to release through similar deals in the near future.

The spaghetti Western-style "Tiger" tracks Dum, a gunslinger who falls for a high-society woman but finds his gang and her father are set on keeping them apart.

"It's been sort of a holy grail for a lot of film fans," said Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles, who plans a January New York release at the Film Forum followed by a platform rollout through February and March.

The film was digitally tinted with pastel colors, "sort of similar to the old movie lobby cards from the '40s and '50s," Bowles said. "It's really one of the most unique films I've seen in the last decade."

Magnolia, which approached Miramax about acquiring the film, will release the original uncut Thai version. Other versions of "Tiger" have been released internationally.

In a similar acquisition last year, Magnolia picked up the rights in all English-language territories and several other countries for Kiyoshi Kurosawa's Japanese horror film "Pulse," from Dimension/Miramax, which purchased rights to the film after its 2001 Cannes premiere.

A DVD of the film has been released in Thailand and the U.K., but Magnolia will handle its first Region 1 release next year.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia head of acquisitions Tom Quinn and head of business affairs Jason Janego with Miramax vp business affairs Rosalind Lawton and vp acquisitions Peter Lawson.