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Sierra/Affinity-Par deal offers independent opportunity

The synergy between the studio and independent worlds came into sharp focus on Friday with fresh developments on a pair of Paramount titles and, separately, Red Granite’s red-hot Wolf Of Wall Street.

Sierra/Affinity announced it would represent select territories on the Denzel Washington drama Flight and Michael Bay’s summer 2013 release Pain And Gain.

Nick Meyer has struck deals on Flight with StudioCanal for Germany and German-speaking Switzerland and with Tri Pictures for Spain and Spanish-speaking Andorra.

Robert Zemeckis’ film stars Washington as a troubled airline pilot and has huge awards potential. However its dark subject matter makes it a risk in select territories even if there is potential upside in the cachet of distributing award winning material.

According to industry insiders Paramount top brass may have felt more comfortable entrusting the film in the safe hands of Meyer, a former president of Paramount Vantage. The MGs from the deals in Germany and Spain could exceed Paramount’s local box office projections.

All eyes will be on the film’s North American debut this weekend as a driver of international box office.

Pain And Gain presents challenges for the studio as worldwide distributor. Observers speculate that the thriller about bodybuilders who become embroiled in a botched kidnapping could be tricky in several territories and thus Paramount chose to offer it to the market.

Sierra/Affinity represents rights in Spain and CIS, including Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, the Baltics and Caucasus Region. 

Wolf Of Wall Street inhabits a different scenario. Widely regarded as the choice A-list project of the AFM, the drama reunites Leonardo DiCaprio with Martin Scorsese but comes at a price – believed to be well over $100m.

This may be too expensive for some independent buyers. The back-stop is that Warner Bros holds matching rights in certain territories and may step in if the opportunity presents itself. The studio is understood to be circling select territories, although sources close to Red Granite International declined to comment. Paramount holds North American rights.

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