Bidding wars in Germany and the UK on glitzy French ensemble piece Eight Women (Huit Femmes) lit up an otherwise sluggish market as the Berlinale moved into its second week.
Prices for the German rights were said to have risen to as much as $1m on Eight Women, which was boosted by a spectacular box-office opening in France and the presence of stars such as Catherine Denueve at the festival. Sales agent Celluloid Dreams is understood to be fielding offers from distributors including Prokino, Constantin, Tobis, Senator and Concorde.
In the UK, the film's original price tag of around $100,000 could now triple. One source even said the top offer was "just shy of half million". Buyers in the ring are understood to include Pathe, Momentum and UGC, which is planning to set up a UK distribution presence. FilmFour, previously out of the bidding race. is also back in, presumably turned on by the film's strong weekend performance. "Exactly what I wanted to happen has happened," said Celluloid chief Hengameh Panahi. "I love it!"
Other sellers were not so enamoured of a market, which one buyer - speaking from the airport's departure lounge - said was "incredibly slow".
Sony Pictures Classics was widely rumoured to be circling Italian competition title Burning In The Wind, but was said to have got cold feet at press time. Sales agent Adriana Chiesa was travelling and unavailable for comment. Co-producer RAI Cinema confirmed "strong interest" from the US in the film. Denmark's Minor Mishaps was also expected to sell to the US - with Sony again being tipped as one candidate - but in a surprise move Trust Film Sales said that it was now holding back the film until the AFM market in Los Angeles later this month. "There are still some US buyers who have not had a chance to see the film," said Annakarin Strom, head of Trust. Frenetic quickly grabbed the film for Switzerland.
But while US deals may have been thin on the ground, international rights were also selling swiftly on Portman Films' Bloody Sunday. Also picking up heat was Spirited Away, with Pathe thought to be talking to sales agent Wild Bunch for the UK.