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CANNES ’08 BIZ DAILY | Update: Hyde Park Million Dollar Asian Fund; Celluloid Follows “Prophet,” MT

CANNES '08 BIZ DAILY | Update: Hyde Park Million Dollar Asian Fund; Celluloid Follows "Prophet," MT

Continuing coverage of the Marche du Film in Cannes, indieWIRE reports on the latest deals and news from the Croisette. Hyde Park hypes a multi-million dollar fund for Singapore productions, MTV acquires “Planet B-Boy from Elephant Eye, Celluloid Dreams begins pre-sales of Jacques Audiard‘s latest, Jada Pinkett- Smith brings her directorial debut to Cannes, Origin Pictures will launch in June, a look at the Canadian pavillion, and more.

Hyde Park Hypes Multi-Million Dollar Asian Film Fund

Set to launch this Fall, a new multi-million dollar fund from Ashok Amritraj‘s Hyde Park Entertainment Group is aiming to trade on Singapore’s goals to become a rising film outpost in Asia. The fund will funnel some $75 – 100 million (SGD) in equity and debt to support feature film production in Singapore, where Amritraj’s new Hyde Park Asia (HPA) will be based.

HPA plans to back three to four films each year, mixing Hollywood projects with what it calls “cross-cultural titles aimed at a global audience.” Weighing in on the announcement Thursday, head of the local Media Development Authority of Singapore Dr. Christopher Chia praises the development as bolstering, “Singapore’s position as a media business exchange where New Asia Media projects are created, financed and distributed.” Continuing in the statement, he added, “It sets the stage for more collaborations between Singapore media companies and Hyde Park Asia.”

HPA is finishing “Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li,” based on the Japanese video game of the same name. The Fox film, still in production in Hong Kong and Bangkok, stars Kristin Kreuk, Michael Clarke Duncan, Neal McDonough, as well Asian stars Josie Ho and Edmund Chen. Also on their slate are the romantic comedy “The Other End of the Line” with American Jesse Metcalfe and Indian actress Shriya Saran.

Hyde Park Asia expresses a commitment to focusing on new talent through its moviemaking reality show in India, “Gateway.” The winners of the series will direct a film for the company later this fall. Meanwhile, also in India, Ashok Amritraj has a three-picture pact with Adlabs Films, the film arm of Reliance Entertainment, which hopes to co-finance HPA projects. The company’s foreign sales arm, Hyde Park International, (lead by Lisa Wilson) will handle foreign territories. Hyde Park has a first look pact with 20th Century Fox. [Eugene Hernandez]

Celluloid Follows Audiard’s “A Prophet” for Cannes ’09; Collaborates for Cordero’s “Rabia”

Celluloid Dreams has begun pre-sales on French director Jacques Audiard‘s crime drama, “A Prophet.” The film sales company also announced plans to team with Spain’s Telecino Cinema and Monfort Producciones, Colombia’s dynamo and Mexico’s Tequila Gang on romantic thriller, “Rabia” by Sebastian Cordero.

Written by Audiard and Thomas Bidegain based on a script by Abdel Raouf Dafri and Nicolas Peufaillit, “The Prophet” is the story of Malik, a young Arab imprisoned because he wouldn’t snitch. At age 18, he arrives in a French prison completely lost. At first, he maintains obedience to the prison’s reigning Corsican mafia, and slowly rises in the ranks, playing a dangerous game of double-crossing the Corsicans, and ultimately destroys his enemies. Following his release six years later, he successfully builds his own empire and is the leader of the Arab mafia and a hero to his community.

Audiard is producing the film along with Chic Films and Why Not Productions with a $12 million budget. Principal photography begins in August with delivery set for Cannes’ 09. UGC will distribute the film in France, while BIM Distribuzione pre-bought Italian rights ahead of Cannes after coming on board as the Italian co-producer. Audiard’s previous film, “The Beat that My Heart Skipped” won eight Cesar Awards in 2006 and won the BAFTA for best foreign language film in the same year.

Cordero’s $5.3 million USD project, meanwhile, began principal photography this month with a planned eight-week shoot in locations near San Sebastian in Spain. Mexican actor Gustavo Sanchez Parra (“Amores perros“) and Colombian actress Martina Garcia (“Satanas“) star in the film, which Celluloid describes as a “haunting tale about two immigrant workers in Spain.”

The project is the first collaboration between Celluloid and Telecino Cinema as well as Tequila Gang, the production company of Mexican director and producer Guillermo del Toro and Bertha Navarro. Both Telecino Cinema and Tequila Gang co-produced multiple Oscar-winning post-Spanish Civil War fable, “Pan’s Labyrinth.” [Brian Brooks]

BBC’s David Thompson Launches Origin Pictures

David Thompson, former Head of BBC Films and executive producer of awards winning films such as “Billy Elliot,” “Dirty Pretty Things,” and “Notes on A Scandal,” has announced that he will be launching his own independent film and television production company, Origin Pictures. Thompson plans to continue as Executive Producer for BBC Films for the next few years on upcoming films such as Jane Campion‘s “Bright Star” and Martin Campbell‘s “Edge of Darkness.” With him, Thompson is bringing along Ed Rubin as Head of Development, with Anant Singh‘s company Distant Horizon as a major backer for Origin. Said Singh in a statement about Thompson, “His exceptional experience in motion pictures and television coupled with his global relationships will make Origin Pictures a formidable independent production house in the UK and we are delighted to be a part of it. Origin has a first look deals with BBC Fiction and Freemantle Media Enterprises. [Jenny Sung/indieWIRE]

Elephant Eye’s David Robinson, Kim Jose and Bridget Stokes at their office in the Carlton Hotel Thursday afternoon in Cannes. Photo by Brian Brooks/indieWIRE.

Elephant Eye Trunks a TV Deal with MTV; Shops Growing Slate in Market

MTV has acquired U.S. television rights to director Benson Lee‘s break dancing doc, “Planet B-Boy” from production, sales and boutique distribution outfit Elephant Eye Films. Elephant, which currently has “B-Boy” in release theatrically Stateside, also negotiated a video deal for the title, which has enjoyed a successful box office run, with Arts Alliance America in addition to VOD, which Gravitas Ventures repped and sold to Warner Home Video.

The New York-based company is attending its first Cannes after its formation last spring by Kim Jose (former VP of Jean Doumanian Production), Dave Robinson (former CFO and head of international sales for Lee Daniels Entertainment), and Vicky Wight (former VP of Artistic License). The company released Jennifer Venditti‘s SXSW Film Festival award-winning doc “Billy the Kid” earlier in the year and plans to produce and distribute a slate of four to six titles in the U.S. per year.

The company is in Cannes to shop their slate of projects in addition to acquiring films for U.S. theatrical release. The group picked up international sales rights to Irfan Kamal‘s ‘Hindi indie’ “Thanks Maa,” about a 12 year-old boy who saves an infant and tries to find the child’s birth mother amid the squalor of Mumbai.

Elephant is also selling Aaron Woodley‘s “Tennessee,” starring Mariah Carey and produced by Lee Daniels in addition to “Push,” produced and directed by Daniels, starring Mo’Nique, Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patton and Lenny Kravitz, with an autumn release planned for the U.S. Also screening in the Marche du Film is Craig Zobel‘s “Great Wall of Sound,” which Magnolia Pictures released in the U.S. Elephant Eye is producing Zobel’s upcoming comedy “Turkey in the Straw,” which begins principal photography this summer. Additionally, Mike Jacobs‘ doc, “Audience of One” is also screening in the market.

“We couldn’t’ be happier to have MTV on board. They’ve been very supportive and we think it’s a perfect fit for the network,” commented Jose about the television deal for “Planet B-Boy.” “We’re thrilled for the ‘B-Boy’ team and director Benson Lee because their film will get the exposure it really deserves.” [Brian Brooks]

Studio 18 Goes Beyond Borders with “Jab We Met” and “Welcome”

It was announced on Thursday that The Indian Film Company-Studio 18 has sold the romantic comedy Bollywood film “Jab We Met” for European film, DVD and TV rights to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Poland’s Gutek Film. In theatrical release, “Jab We Met” grossed nearly $20 million US at the worldwide box office and received many awards. Gutek has also acquired rights to “Welcome,” another Bollywood hit, releasing both films theatrically before their DVD and TV runs. “I am aware that ‘Welcome’ is a huge film and even though it is a comedy, atypical for Poland, we are taking it as a challenge,” said Jukub Duszynski of Gutek Film in a statement. Hemant Bhardwaj of Studio 18 said in a release, “We’re very excited about showcasing our films to audiences from around the globe and Poland is definitely among our thrust markets.” [Jenny Sung}

BenderSpink and FilmEngine To Produce Third “Butterfly Effect”

It was announced Thursday that “The Butterfly Effect” franchise will produce its third installment with BenderSpink and FilmEngine. After Dark Films will also be producing, as well as distributing the film theatrically via its After Dark Horrorfest “8 Films to Die For” series. “We’re taking the ‘Butterfly Effect’ to a whole new level of insanity,” said BenderSpink’s Chris Bender in a statement. Like its successors, the film follows a young man who inherits the butterfly effect and tries to solve the death of his girlfriend. FilmBridge International will be representing the film in foreign sales at Cannes. [Jenny Sung/indieWIRE]

Pinkett-Smith Brings “Contract” To Cannes

Actress Jada Pinkett-Smith is bringing her feature writing and directorial debut, “The Human Contract,” to Cannes. Starring Paz Vega, Jason Clarke, and Pinkett-Smith herself, “Contract” is about a successful corporate type who meets a free-spirited stranger who encourages him to live recklessly. The film was produced by James Kassiter and Will Smith‘s Overlook Entertainment, Tycoon Entertainment and Pinkett-Smith’s 100% Womon. It will screen privately on Saturday before hosting a distributor-only dinner at the Carlton. Vega, Clarke, Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith are all attending. Lightening is handling international distribution sales with ICM’s Hal Sadoff looking after the U.S. [Peter Knegt]

NonStop Dives into “The Valley of Fears”

NonStop Sales has acquired the multilingual thriller “The Valley of Fears” for international sales rights. The film details a young boy and his friends’ experiences in a secluded mountain village, where they play a dangerous game and bring up mysteries of the past in the history of the mountain valley. This will be the feature debut for director Mihaly Gyorik. NonStop is currently screening the film’s promo to potential buyers. [Jenny Sung]

CMG Takes a Chance With “Louis La Chance”

Cinema Management Group (CMG) has announced that it has inked worldwide sales rights to “Louis La Chance,” a CGI animated feature film. Veteran CMG sales executive Edward Noeltner said in a statement that the film is “funny, thrilling, and action-packed…it’s being made for kids and adults of all ages.” “Louis La Chance” depicts the story of two brothers, racing in the 1943 Monaco Grand Prix in order to restore their father’s racing legacy with a powerful new racing fuel. CMG is located in the Palais – Lerins S.11 this year at Cannes. [Jenny Sung]

Entertainment 7 In Gestation with “Baby on Board”

Emilio Ferrari‘s Entertainment 7 has announced that they will be premiering select footage from “Baby on Board” at Cannes on May 15, 17, and 19th at Palais G. The film stars Heather Graham, Jerry O’Connell, John Corbett and Lara Flynn Boyle and is directed by Brian Herzlinger. The romantic comedy follows an image-conscious woman who deals with her unexpected pregnancy with her husband, and the struggle that is involved with balancing a career and family life. Other films Entertainment 7 will be representing at the market are “For Love Alone,” “An Existential Affair,” “Redemption,” and “Blackwater Farm.” [Jenny Sung]

The scene inside the Canadian Pavilion Thursday afternoon. Image by Peter Knegt/indieWIRE.

Canadians Take Care Of Business

With 3 films in competition, Canadians have their share of the spotlight at Cannes. In addition to their Brazil-Japan co-production, “Blindness,” which opened the festival Wednesday night, Canada brings Atom Egoyan‘s return to Cannes competition with “Adoration,” and Denis Villenueve‘s short “Next Floor,” which is screening as part of International Critic’s Week. “It’s a good year for Canadians,” said Lise Corriveau, Project Leader of Festivals and Markets for Telefilm Canada. “Selection wise, and business wise.”

Corriveau suggested there are close to 150 companies at Cannes, 72 of which are registered at the Canadian Pavilion, which Telefilm organizes and finances. That number is up from 16 companies that registered during the Pavilion’s first year, 2002, and from the 56 that registered last year. “We used to always say that there are 500 Canadians at Cannes,” Correvieau laughed. “It’s a lot more now.”

This increase could be in part due to the substantial consideration Telefilm and the Canadian Pavilion (which is produced in partnership with provincial film development agencies, the Department of Canadian Heritage, and the Canadian Film and Television Production Association) give to the people that make the trip. “We try to give a lot of promotion for companies,” said Correvieau. “We use public funds, so we want to make sure the money is well used.” In doing so, the Pavilion has put on a “cost sharing initiative,” in which they pay for one of the two screenings of films playing in the Cannes Market, and take care of all of the promotion.

Under the heading “Perspective Canada,” films screening in the market benefit from substantial marketing and events. “This year we decided to do events focusing specifically on international buyers,” said Correvieau. Among them are three invitation-only networking events, one for distributors and sales agents (May 17), one for European buyers (May 18), and one for the Asia-Pacific region (May 20).

Another initiative of the Pavilion is increasing Canadian co-productions. “Canada is highly sought after co-production partner,” explained Correvieau. For this reason, the Pavilion branded the program “Partnering With Canada,” which focuses on co-productions, tax credits and shooting locations. “People appreciate the professionalism of Canadian producers,” said Correvieau. “We try to guide people to them.”

One event the Pavilion is producing to help this happen is a “speed dating” session for French language projects, which will welcome French producers registered in the Producers Network, which is organized in association with SODEC (Societe de developpement des enterprises culturelles du Quebec). However, it is notable that SODEC itself is the only provincial organization that is not a full partner of the Pavilion, and actually has its own Pavilion down the carpet from Canada with Quebec-specific initiatives. How does this affect the French films in the Canadian Pavilion? “We’re supporting all Canadian companies,” said Correvieau with a smirk. “We don’t care where they come from.”

The Pavilion’s events kick of Friday with the “speed dating” session and continue through the festival. [Peter Knegt]

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