A noticeably acquisitive Miramax Films is close to domestic deals on two of the hottest non-American titles on the current sales circuit -. Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Cannes competition contender Amelie From Montmartre and Tsui Hark's The Legend Of Zu, starring Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon discovery Zhang Ziyi.
In both cases Miramax is expected to take US rights, continuing a sudden domestic rights-buying binge that began at Sundance and went on through to this year's Berlin Film Festival, where three films were snapped up.
Amelie is a romantic comedy directed by Jeunet, one-half of the team behind Delicatessan and City Of Lost Children before he made his Hollywood debut with Alien: Resurrection. The UGC International title, about a naïve girl trying to help others discover love, stars Audrey Tautou and Mathieu Kassovitz and is seen as a virtual lock for Cannes. At presstime, UGC International chief Patrick Binet was in transit and unavailable for comment.
Hark, whose credits include the classic Once Upon A Time In China as well as a couple of Jean-Claude Van Damme action movies in English, is currently in post on The Legend Of Zu, starring Zhang as a warrior princess alongside hot local talents Ekin Cheng and Cecilia Cheung. The martial arts are choreographed by Yuen Wo Ping, responsible for the breathtaking sequences in both The Matrix and Crouching Tiger.
Distant Horizon, which represents The Legend Of Zu for the US with Summit handling international sales, declined to comment. However, such a deal would signal Miramax's resurgent interest in Asian - and foreign-language fare in general - after Sony Pictures Classics' success with Crouching Tiger (a film that has grossed more than $100m worldwide to day). Miramax has just installed Dede Nickerson as its Beijing-based scout for possible Asian pick-ups, as well as revamping its London-based buying team, with Elizabeth Dreyer replacing Teresa Moneo, who moves across into production.
The moves cap a busy few weeks on the international circuit for Miramax, which has boarded or is circling no less than ten projects since co-chief Harvey Weinstein returned to the Sundance buying fray by paying around $1.5m for the US rights to Good Machine's In The Bedroom. A Berlin shopping spree yielded Euro acquisitions including Italian For Beginners and Belgium Oscar nominee Everybody Famous, while the company recently boarded French Oscar nominee The Taste Of Others and IAC's Shiner.
At production stage, Miramax is circling The Quiet American and Assumption Of The Virgin starring Juliette Binoche and has struck a deal for Iris, all from Intermedia. The mini-major has also signed up for Taxi director Gerard Pires' English-language debut Heist, a UK-French-Canadian co-production on which TF1 has just partnered to handle all international sales.