Palisades Tartan has 'Sinking' feeling

Thriller purchase keys label's rebuilding effort at AFM

Palisades Tartan has acquired U.S. and U.K. rights to Shinji Higuchi’s disaster epic "The Sinking of Japan," along with U.S. rights to the extreme horror title "The Butcher," as part of its bid to rebuild the 25-year-old label.

Sold by Tokyo Broadcasting System at this week's AFM, the sci-fi thriller "Sinking" made $48 million at the Japanese boxoffice when it was released by Toho in summer 2006. Based on Sakyo Komatsu's novel "Sink Japan," the film previously was adapted for the big screen by Shiro Moritani for his 1973 film of the same name.

Kim Jin-won's "Butcher," meanwhile, follows a group of filmmakers who kidnap unsuspecting individuals and force them to become stars of a torture-horror epic. The film was sold by Brian Cox's L.A.-based Friendly Planet.

Earlier in the week, Palisades Tartan acquired U.K. rights to Park Chan-wook's tentpole feature "Thirst" from CJ Entertainment. Palisades chairman and CEO Vin Roberti said Wednesday that Tartan is looking to release 24 films in both of Palisades Tartan's territories next year, with six to eight theatrical releases planned for the U.S. and 12 planned for the U.K. Other titles will roll out on DVD.

"We are planning to be big players," said Roberti, adding that the company aims to build its film library from 600 to 1,000 titles. "We will be focusing on Asian extreme, art house and world cinema."

Palisades Media, a New York-based film-finance and distribution company, acquired Tartan after the latter company went into administration this year. Tartan had a strong track record in releasing edgy art house films and cult Asian horror titles such as "Ring" and "Infernal Affairs."

Tokyo Broadcasting System completed several other deals during AFM. Among them, "Pandemic" went to Bona Entertainment for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and to J-Bics for Thailand, and Takashi Miike's "Crows 2" sold to Encore Films for Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.