In the past few days, buyers at the Cannes Film Festival have had a first look at some high-profile pics they’ve already bought. Focus Features International screened Cloud Atlas on Tuesday for its distributors, and IM Global gave theirs a full showing of Dredd this afternoon. FilmNation also held screenings of three of its upcoming pics to get folks excited early.
Cloud Atlas, directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, stars Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugh Grant. It’s based on David Mitchell’s book that consists of six interconnected stories. Warner Bros will release domestically, but the studio did not finance the $100M film. Producer Grant Hill tells me when it became clear that Warner Bros couldn’t see how to make it within the studio system, the filmmakers chose a different route. That included a combination of equity from Asian sources and some rights deals. “We were lucky it went very well and got us the money we needed,” says Hill, adding, “When we had raised the amount we needed, we were feeling pretty good about it so we said why don’t we wait and hold back 3 or 4 territories.” The territories remaining are the UK, France, Japan and Spain. The screening could lead to deals closing soon. “There’s a lot of people talking to a lot of people… The nice part about having potential buyers in the screening is that they got to sit with people who had already bought the film and who were enthusiastic. But, you can’t control the situation, it could easily have gone the other way.” The financing structure “is a model I’d try again,” he says, “but it’s not a model that’s a fit for all situations.”
Of today’s Dredd screening, IM Global’s Stuart Ford says, “The reaction was great. It was as packed as any screening I’ve seen in Cannes. There were people sitting on the floor in the front and the back of the room.” (And that was after the air-conditioning had gone on the blink just ahead of the movie; Ford says there were no walkouts, “even though it was about a hundred degrees.”) Dredd, directed by Pete Travis, stars Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby and Lena Headey. It’s a project that would also normally have been set up at a studio, but instead, Reliance Big Entertainment and IM Global financed DNA Films’ $40M adaptation of the UK comic created by John Wagner and illustrated by Carlos Ezquerra. Today’s screening allowed “people who bought it for a lot of money 18 months ago” to get a look at what Ford says is “an edgy, cool film with a rocking soundtrack.” Compared to other superhero pictures coming down the pike, Ford says it “appears very fresh and distinctive. It’s Dirty Harry meets District 9.” Lionsgate is releasing in the U.S. on September 21 and there are two territories remaining that Ford expects to close possibly “before the evening is out.”
FilmNation also already screened three of its titles on Tuesday: The company showed the Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis starrer Looper, Bradley Parker’s horror pic Chernobyl Diaries and Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike to buyers before Cannes was underway in earnest. FilmNation’s Glen Basner tells me the gist was to “show we’re great at selling and executing on those movies. We want people to see exciting movies right off the bat.” It also helps establish marketing strategy. “We use the screenings as discussion for everybody’s realease plans.” Warner Bros is releasing Chernobyl Diaries and Magic Mike and FilmDistrict has Looper. FilmNation’s Jeff Nichols-directed Mud screens in competition next Saturday.