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CANNES '06 MARKET DAILY: Magnolia Makes a Deal For "Host"; Weinstein Goes Asian; TF1 Acquires Trio o

Indiewire By Indiewire | Indiewire May 24, 2006 at 7:52AM

Buyers and sellers began checking out of the Marche du Film Wednesday, some heading back to their home offices. But many others stayed longer in Cannes to try to close another deal or two before exiting Cannes. In a rare deal from an American company in Cannes, Magnolia Pictures worked into the early hours of Wednesday morning to close an English language rights deal for South Korean director Bong Joon-ho's "The Host," an acclaimed Directors' Fortnight entry at the festival this year that has earned growing buzz in recent days. Earlier in the fest, The New York Times' critic Manohla Dargis called it the best film she has seen at the fest so far. The U.S. buyer closed the pact with Cineclick Asia.
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Buyers and sellers began checking out of the Marche du Film Wednesday, some heading back to their home offices. But many others stayed longer in Cannes to try to close another deal or two before exiting Cannes. In a rare deal from an American company in Cannes, Magnolia Pictures worked into the early hours of Wednesday morning to close an English language rights deal for South Korean director Bong Joon-ho's "The Host," an acclaimed Directors' Fortnight entry at the festival this year that has earned growing buzz in recent days. Earlier in the fest, The New York Times' critic Manohla Dargis called it the best film she has seen at the fest so far. The U.S. buyer closed the pact with Cineclick Asia.

The company has rights to the film in North America, U.K., Australia, and New Zealand and is planning to release it later this year.

A Magnolia description of the film explains, "A hybrid of genre elements drawn from science fiction, horror, family drama and more, 'The Host' finds present-day Seoul terrorized by an unidentified monster living in the river Han. When a young girl is taken by the creature, her family undertakes a dangerous rescue mission."

With visual effects and animation from The Orphanage, the film was written by Joon-ho Bong, Joon-wan Hah, and Chul-hyun Baek, from a story by Joon-ho Bong. It was produced by Yong-bae Choi, Woo-take Kim, Tae-Sung Jeong and is presented by Chungeorahm Film and Showbox Mediaplex.

"I think 'The Host' has the potential to become a classic of the genre," said Magnolia Pictures president Eamonn Bowles in a statement Wednesday. "The creature is one of the most impressive and imaginative movie monsters I've seen in a very long time."

Bong Joon-ho's previous feature films include "Barking Dogs Never Bite" in 2000 and "Memories of Murder" in 2003.

The deal was negotiated by Magnolia's Head of Acquisitions Tom Quinn, Manager of Acquisitions Ben Stambler and Head of Business and Legal Affairs Jason Janego with Cineclick's Young-joo Suh and Senior Manager Sang-eun Chi on behalf of Chungeorahm Film and Showbox Mediaplex. [Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE]

Weinsten Company to Release Asian Titles Under New Label

The Weinstein Company unveiled its new film label, Dragon Dynasty, on Tuesday, which will be used to release the company's Asian titles. Upcoming releases under the Dragon Dynasty label will include "Ong Bak 2," "The Protector (aka "Tom Yum Goong"), "Born To Fight," "SPL," "Seven Swords," and "Dragon Squad." The Weinstein Company has also joined with the distribution division of News Corporations STAR Group, which owns the world's largest contemporary Chinese language feature library, to release other films. The Dragon Dynasty library already includes a number of films starring actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Stephen Chow as well as titles from well-known filmmakers. The company plans to continue building the library, and will be acquiring titles across all genres of Asian film, a Weinstein company release states. Harvey Weinstein added, "Bob and I are proud to launch Dragon Dynasty and hope to continue bringing Asian cinema the recognition it deserves." [Tamara Schweitzer/indieWIRE]

Picturehouse and New Line Making "Amusement"

Picturehouse and New Line International have announced a worldwide rights deal to "Amusement," a suspense, horror film to be directed by John Simpson, from a screenplay by Jake Wade Wall. The film is described as, "a terrifying exploration into three seemingly different women's own, unique versions of fear. It's a twisting, horrifying journey, which brings these strangers together for a far more malevolent plan." The film is an Edelstein/Macari Production, with partners Mike Macari and Neal Edelstein serving as producers. SVP of Acquisitions for Picturehouse Sara Rose, Vice President of Production and Acquisitions for New Line Merideth Finn, and Picturehouse executive Lindsay Crain will oversee the production, which is set to begin later this year.

"Amusement shows the diversity of product that will be released under the Picturehouse banner," said company president Bob Berney in a statement. "John Simpson brings a visceral cinematic style to a classic horror script from Jake Wall." MacariEdelstein Productions previously produced "The Ring" and "The Ring Two". They are currently in post-production on the David S. Goyer's thriller, "The Invisible." The deal was brokered on behalf of Picturehouse by Carolyn Blackwood, EVP of Business Affairs and Co-Productions, New Line and negotiated on behalf of the film by Alex Kohner of Barnes Morris Klein Mark Yorn Barnes & Levine. [Eugene Hernandez/indieWIRE]

TF1 International Acquires Family Film "Duke And Clarke"

TF1 International announced in a company release that it has acquired Mark Saltzman's family film, "Duke and Clarke." Saltzman, who is the author of the family classic "Milo and Otis," also wrote the screenplay for the film, which is produced by Endgame Entertainment. The company release describes the film as a live-action children's story that "tells the tale of Duke, a grizzled herding dog, and Claire, a prissy Boston show dog, as they shepherd a group of newborn ducklings to safety. The film will be shot in the landscape of southern Utah. Saltzman has teamed with Merriweather Williams (Sponge Bob Square Pants) to finalize discussions for the voice-over parts. [Tamara Schweitzer/indieWIRE]

Tf1 International Aquires Two Argentinian Films

TF1 International announced in a company release that it has acquired two new films, "El Camino De San Diego," directed by Carlos Sorin, and the Argetinian film, "Tiempo De Valientes," directed by Damian Szifron. In Sorin's film, the award-winning director of "Historias Minimas" and "Bombon El Perro," "brings a warm road movie with non-professional actors about a man following his dream, and takes an affectionate look at Argentina," the company release states. Director Szifron's film, "Tiempo De Valientes," was previously distributed in Argentina and Latin America by Twentieth Century Fox. The film is about a traffic accident that brings two men--a therapist and a police detective--together. According to the release, both films were shot in Argentina and produced by Oscar Kramer and Hugo Sigman for KS Films Argentina. [Tamara Schweitzer/indieWIRE]

Alpine Pictures Launches Theatrical Distribution

Alpine Pictures recently announced the launch of its Domestic Theatrical Distribution arm, which will release films beginning this fall. The first theatrical distribution will be director Elliot Lester's feature film, "Love Is The Drug," a company release states. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City earlier this year and is currently debuting at the Cannes Film Festival. Alpine also has plans to release "Spit," a documentary by director Rotimi Rainwater about the world of Slam Poetry. According to the company release, worldwide rights have been acquired for "The Trap," an action/thriller film about four hikers who stumble on a dead body and a bag full of cash. Alpine Pictures is already in production on the feature film thriller, "Dark Honeymoon," which is schedule for a U.S. theatrical release in the Spring of 2007. [Tamara Schweitzer/indieWIRE]


Ang Lee Signs On To Direct Another Focus Features' Film

Focus Features CEO James Schamus announced today in a realease from Cannes that Ang Lee, the award-winning director of "Brokeback Mountain," has agreed to make his second consecutive film, "Lust, Caution," with Focus Features. The film is described by the release as an "espionage thriller set in WWII-era Shanghai," and is being adapted from a short story by the late Chinese author Eileen Chang. Bill Kong, who worked with Lee on his film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," will produce the film and Schamus will executive produce it. Production is scheduled to begin in the fall, the release states. "I'm delighted that Ang is back with all of us here at Focus, and he's going to be making a very exciting film that's unlike anything he's done before," Schamus said in a company statement. "'Lust, Caution' is a uniquely Asian story which, in Ang's hands, will surprise and attract audiences around the world." [Tamara Schweitzer/indieWIRE]

TLA Releasing Acquires Sion Sono's "Strange Circus" For Its Label

TLA Releasing announced that it has acquired the rights to "Suicide Club" director Sion Sono's "Strange Circus." The film, which will debut on the Danger After Dark label, is described in a company release as a "surreal shockfest filled with bondage, amputations and smoldering sexuality." TLA acquired the film from the Japan-based company Sedic International, the release states. The deal was negotiated at the Cannes Film Festival by TLA Director of Acquisitions Richard A. Wolff and Sedic International's Richard Jeffrey. "'Strange Circus' is a visually disturbing and edgy film that will certainly cause a stir," TLA's Wolff said in a company release. "It plays with audiences perspectives and emotions in the most unconventional way, making it an original addition to our Danger After Dark label." [Tamara Schweitzer/indieWIRE]

Sundream Motion Pictures Closes International Sales At Cannes

The Hong Kong production and distribution company Sundream Motion Pictures announced in a release that it has closed a deal on the international sale of several newly produced films. Brazil's China Video Produtora has acquired "Eye in the Sky," a story about the Hong Kong Police, and "49 Days." Sahamongkol Films of Thailand acquired a multiple film package including "A Battle of Wits," which the release describes as an epic war movie about how one man stands up against an army to protect a defenseless city. This is Sundream's first year attending the Cannes Films Market, and the company is "happy that our productions are well received by the international market," President of Sundream Siuming Tsui stated in the release. [Tamara Schweitzer/indieWIRE]

Mandarin Films Sells Action Movie "Dragon Tiger Gate"

The Croisette Mandarin Films announced yesterday in a company release that it has sold director Yip Wai-Shun's "Dragon Tiger Gate" to the German company Splendid Film GMBH and Spain-based Tot Media S.L. The film is an action movie that is based on the Manga Comics "Dragon and Tiger Heroes." It tells the story of Tiger Wong, an exceptionally skilled martial artist who defends a family against a group of Triads, a description in the release says. The films' star, Donnie Yen, was on hand in Cannes where the deal was completed. [Tamara Schweitzer/indieWIRE]

[Get the latest from the Festival de Cannes throughout the day in indieWIRE's special Cannes '06 section.]

This article is related to: Festival Dispatch