Focus Features Internationalhas laid out its most ambitious sales slate to date for Cannes including aTouchstone Pictures production called Dan In The Real Life which Buena Vista will distribute domestically andkey territories on Sean Penn's Into the Wild which Paramount's specialty arm will distributedomestically.
"We really are trying to getthe message across that Focus International does have and will continue tocreate a very broad range of movies from a variety of sources," explainedAlison Thompson, the company's president of sales and distribution.
Dan In Real Life stars Steve Carell as a renowned advice columnistand single father who unexpectedly encounters the woman of his dreams -who turns out to be his brother's girlfriend. Peter Hedges, whose Pieces OfApril was a United Artists release, is directing the film and co-wrote the screenplay withPierce Gardner.
Focus is handling Germany,Italy, Spain and Japan on Into The Wild on behalf of producers Art Linson and Bill Pohlad's River RoadEntertainment. The movie stars Emile Hirsch as an idealistic young man whorenounces all of his middle-class possessions in order to recreate himself as amodern-day "king of the road." Catherine Keener and Vince Vaughn also star. Itis Penn's first film as a director since The Pledge in 2001.
The only new Focusproduction which Thompson is selling is David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises starring Viggo Mortenson as a ruthless hit man forone of London's most notorious organized crime families who helps a youngmidwife with evidence against the family stay alive.
From Universal's Roguedivision comes the comedy Balls Of Fury which Spyglass Entertainment is producing with Robert Ben Garantdirecting a story set in the world of clandestine Ping-Pong tournaments. DanFogler, George Lopez, Maggie Q and Christopher Walken star.
From Michael Bay's PlatinumDunes, which produced the recent remakes of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Amityville Horror, comes another horror remake of 1986 classic TheHitcher. Dave Meyers is directingthe story of two young travelers tormented by a mysterious hitchhiker. SophiaBush from TV show One Tree Hillstars. Rogue will handle domestic rights.
Previously announced on theFocus Cannes slate is Michel Gondry's next film Be Kind Rewind starring Jack Black which is being produced byGeorges Bermann and Partizan Films, Gondry's collaborators on The Science OfSleep.
Also on the slate are ZhangYimou's $45m epic starring Gong Li and Chow Yun-Fat which has now been titled- Curse Of The Golden Flower- and Pedro Almodovar's competition entry Volver.
Thompson said that despitethe recent creation of Universal's standalone distribution division under DavidKosse, the studio remains firmly committed to the Focus model of selling andpre-selling rights to independents. "There will be some territories which wewill self-distribute, as was the case on The Constant Gardener or Brokeback Mountain, but the Focus model works exteremly well and it'sbusiness as usual for us."
She added that she would betalking to buyers at Cannes about the next wave of in-house Focus productionssuch as Rian Johnson's Brick follow-upThe Brothers Bloom but that shewouldn't start selling them until later in the year.