Mike Fleming

elton-johnThe Cannes marketplace is just getting underway, but what’s selling? So far, the most significant deal was the Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group’s buy of most key territories on Hanna, the Joe Wright-directed action film that casts Saoirse Ronan in a La Femme Nikita role, playing a teen bad-ass trying to rescue her survivalist father and using all the death-dealing skills he taught her. Focus Features has domestic distribution and is selling foreign, and SPWAG bought most of the world — no UK, Australia, Russia, Greece or the Middle East, but almost everywhere else – based on 1 minute and a half of footage and a look at the script. Unusual to see a studio-funded specialty film division like Universal-based Focus selling to a rival, but Sony was aggressive, and willing to scoop up hard to pre-sell territories like Japan, and it presented a grand roll-out plan for a film that could do quite well. The SPWAG has a knack for picking winners that recently included District 9. Cate Blanchett also stars.

Gnomeo and Juliet, one of those orphaned Miramax titles that was pulled out of the pending sale to Harvey Weinstein, got buyers sparked up after Pathe showed about 10 minutes of the film at the Majestic Saturday afternoon. The animated film will be converted to 3D but buyers saw it in 2D. After the showing, the film’s songwriter, Elton John, got up, gave a speech and sang one of the songs. It went over well with the crowd and I hear it’s selling well. Disney set it for a February, 2011 release through its Touchstone banner, and not the Disney label which is apparently reserved for home-grown family titles.

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