EXCLUSIVE: Oliver Stone and Audiard dramas, Mel Gibson action Blood Father and Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire among haul.
Middle East distributor Front Row Filmed Entertainment has finalized deals for 26 films from the AFM, including Oliver Stone’s Untitled Snowden Project starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Shailene Woodley, action-thriller Blood Father with Mel Gibson and Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There, all from Wild Bunch.
Front Row continued to cement its long-standing relationships with the likes of Protagonist Pictures and HanWay Films, acquiring the former’s upcoming Ben Wheatley action film Free Fire, Rob Zombie’s 31, David Farr-directed horror The Ones Below and the untitled Joshua Marston drama with Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon.
From HanWay, Front Row secured Thai Boxing action film A Prayer Before Dawn, set to star Charlie Hunnam, The Limehouse Golem, written by Jane Goldman and the Kinks’ biopic You Really Got Me, produced by Jeremy Thomas.
From Embankment Films Front Row picked up dark comedy Zeroville, directed by and starring James Franco alongside Megan Fox, Seth Rogen, Danny McBride and Will Ferrell, while the outfit struck a deal with Celluloid Dreams for Jacques Audiard’s new untitled drama about a Sri Lankan Tamil warrior who flees to France and ends up working as a caretaker outside Paris.
Other acquisitions included well-received horror It Follows and upcoming Lucy Liu thriller Snakehead from Visit Films, and Cinema Management Group trio Gunned Down, Born to Dance and The Messenger.
From the Red Bull-backed Terra Matter Studios comes the sci-fi action thriller DXM: Deus Ex Machina with Sam Neil; from VMI, the romantic-drama Any Day, starring Eva Longoria; from Bankside, the well-received Dubai-bound romance-drama X+Y, starring Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall; from West End, Learning to Drive, with Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson; from Moviehouse, comedy Funny Cow, set to star Martin Freeman; from The Works, Set Fire To The Stars with Elijah Wood, and from 13 Films, Loitering With Intent with Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell.
Animations were also a priority for Front Row, which picked up (in addition to When Marnie Was There) Coconut: The Little Dragon 3D from Sola Media and Hatched: Chicks Gone Wild 3D and Jungle Fever 3D from Chinese animation house Hippo Animation Studios.
“We’ve had a great year releasing over 42 titles including A Walk Among the Tombstones, The Guest, Begin Again, A Long Way Down, The Windrises, 71’, The Quiet Ones and the Egyptian hits Made in Egypt and Al Jazeera 2, among others,” said Front Row managing partner Gianluca Chakra.
“We’re now looking to do the same, if not more, next year, while also focusing on the ever expanding digital and VOD world which will give space to titles that deserve to be seen but unfortunately have a hard time finding space in cinemas,” he continued.
Front Row’s Hisham Al Ghanim added: “Our biggest challenge is educating local producers on alternative ways of distribution such as digital and VOD mediums but we’ll soon get there. The region is still behind but the signs of growth are there. We’re aiming to digitally introduce Arab cinema to the world through our aggregation deal with iTunes hopefully reaching large Arab communities located in the US, UK and South America which are dying for local product but rarely have access to these”.
Front Row’s upcoming slate includes The Woman in Black 2: Angels of Death, Dark Places, Testament of Youth, Robot Overlords, Miss You Already, Dubai-bound Boychoir and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, which will premiere at the Ayjal Youth Film Festival in Doha, Qatar.