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Spanish buyers busy in Cannes despite complaints about high deal prices

Alta buys next Coen brothers film; Golem to distribute Haneke’s Amour.

Spanish distributors went this year to Cannes very wary to spend money because of  the difficult situation for Spanish economy and cinema in particular. Cautious distributors also tend to think that Cannes 2012 has not been as good as previous.

Alta’s Enrique González Kuhn said: “Our biggest bet this year has been to buy the rights for the next film of the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis. This is an important movement for our company”. Alta has also bought in Cannes Hyde Park on Hudson (Focus), by Roger Michell, with Bill Murray playing Roosevelt; and Moroccan God’s Horses, by Nabil Ayouch (Stone Angels).

“This is a personal choice. It has the energy of City of God and we believe it can be a great success,” says González. Prior to the Festival, Alta had already bought Ken Loach’s The Angels’ Share; Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom; Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills and Pablo Tapero’s White Elephant. “This has been the first time that a lot of big movies have not been bought [for Spain] such as The Paperboy, Lawless or Mud.”

Golem has bought Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winner Amour from Les Films du Losange. It will be the fourth time that Golem distributes in Spain a film by Haneke and their fifth Palme d’Or winner: “We are very proud of this film and we hope to have a great impact in adult audience despite the toughness of its content”, says Josetxo Moreno, CEO of Golem.

Golem has also bought The Hunt [pictured] by Thomas Vitenberg (TrustNordisk); Beasts of the Southern Wild (eOne), by Benh Zeitlin, winner of the Caméra d’Or and the much hyped Fortnight winner No by Pablo Larraín  (Funny Baloons). Moreno complains that “prices are still too high. We are having a hard time trying to convince sellers about the difficult situation here in Spain. This year it looks like they have been more responsive but for us every penny is a great effort”.

DeaPlaneta has been very active this year at Cannes, bidding for as many as seven features. The only deal confirmed so far is Un bonneur n’arreive jamais seul, by James Huth (Pathé). According to Yolanda del Val, head of acquisitions, “we are all risking less. Our policy has always been to buy before the film is completed and we might give it a second thought since we cannot afford the risk of not knowing what we are buying”.

Still, DeaPlaneta has pre-bought three films from Weinsteins: Devil’s Knot by Atom Egoyan; Scary Movie 5 and August: Osage County, with Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep. From Exclusive, Agent: Century 21 and from Ealing Metro, Crooked House by Neil LaBute with Diane Kruger. “I think that sellers this year have stopped thinking that we lie to them when we say that the situation is terrible and finally we have seen more reasonable prices”, says Del Val, who passed on Lawless for being “too violent” and Mud for being for very selected audiences.

Juan Barquín, from Karma Films, thinks that, on the contrary, buying films in pre-production or production will be the trend in order to pay less money. This year, Karma has bought no films: “There might be some announcements later on but nothing at this point. Prices are too high and this year’s Cannes selection has been disappointing. We cannot afford to compete for some titles because prices go to high and we are very very cautious”.

Aurum, part of Alliance, has acquired seven titles at Cannes market. The have purchased from IM Global The Butler, the new project by Lee Daniels and Paranoia, by Rober Luketic with Harrison Ford. From Film Nation, Tracers, directed by Spanish Daniel Benmayor with Taylor Lautner; from Sierra, The Coup, a poltical thriller with Pierce Brosnan and Owen Wilson. Finally, from Hyde Park, Aurum acquired the Untitled Elmore Leonard Project, a film with Jennifer Aniston and Dennis Quaid.

Wanda Films has bought two films: Reality, by Matteo Garrone (Fandango Portobello), and On the Road, by Walter Salles (MK2). “It’s more or less what we usually buy”, says Miguel Morales. “There has been no surprise film as it was The Artist last year but it has been a fairly good Cannes. I just ask sellers more comprehension about the situation in Spain with the dramatic loss of spectators, the disappearance of DVD and TVs not buying almost anything. It has been said that Spain has payed more money than Italy for some films and this cannot happen”.

Vertigo Films is still dealing some purchases and will announce anytime soon the results of them. Filmax says to be near closing two big US films. Vertice also has some deals ongoing and will announce its acquisitions soon.

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