EXCLUSIVE: Abel Ferrara’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn film acquired for US, Japan and Benelux during Cannes. Palme d’Or winner Blue is the Warmest Colour and contender Young and Beautiful sold out. 

Wild Bunch has announced first sales on Abel Ferrara’s controversial Welcome to New York starring Gérard Depardieu in a role inspired by the downfall of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

Early buyers include IFC Films for the US alongside uMedia for Benelux and Remstar for Canada. The picture has also sold to Japan (Comstock), Brazil (Imovision) and Germany (Wild Bunch Germany).

The UK and Australia are currently in negotiation.

Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York in May 2011 on charges, later dropped, of attempting to rape a chambermaid at the Sofitel Hotel. The arrest and subsequent revelations about his personal life left his political career in tatters.

Ferrara’s film stars Depardieu and Jacqueline Bisset in roles loosely inspired by Strauss-Kahn and his now ex-wife Anne Sinclair.

The production wrapped in New York at the beginning of May and is now in post-production.

The Wild Bunch team unveiled a two-minute teaser to buyers during Cannes.

By chance, Strauss Kahn also made an appearance at the festival, stepping on to the red carpet for the competition premiere of Jim Jarmusch’s vampire picture Only Lovers Left Alive on Saturday night.

Beyond rolling out Welcome to New York, Wild Bunch was busy in Cannes this year with six competition titles, including the Palme d’Or winner Blue is the Warmest Colour, Claire Denis’ Un Certain Regard title Bastards and Guillaume Canet’s English-language debut Blood Ties, which played out of competition.

“True prices aren’t what they used to be but distributors were in buying mode and there were a lot of transactions,” said Wide Bunch sales chief Carole Baraton. “It was a hectic but successful Cannes for us.”

Baraton said Abdellatif Kechiche’s steamy tale of youthful lesbian love Blue is the Warmest Colour had practically sold-out, apart from in territories where the subject matter was culturally sensitive.

As previously announced, Sundance Selects took the film for the US, Curzon World for the UK and Alamode for Germany.

The picture has also been sold to Australia and New Zealand (Transmission), Italy (Lucky Red), Benelux (Cineart), Spain (Vertigo), Japan (Comstock) and Korea (Pancinema) among others.

Scandinavian sales included to Denmark (Camera), Finland (Cinema Mondo), Iceland (Green Light), Norway (Arthaus) and Sweden (Folkets Bio).

Kechiche’s habitual distributor in Tunisia, Familia Productions, also plans to distribute the picture in the Franco-Tunisian director’s native country, where its same-sex love story is likely to prompt some controversy among more conservative elements of Tunisian society.

The Culture Minister of Tunisia’s Islamist-controlled government congratulated Kechiche on his Palme d’Or win on Sunday evening without mentioning the subject-matter or whether the picture would be allowed to be shown freely in the country.

Wild Bunch Distribution (WBD) will release the film in France in October.

Wild Bunch’s other Cannes top seller was Francois Ozon’s tale of a bourgeois teenage prostitute, Young and Beautiful.

As previously reported, Sundance Selects took the picture for the US and Lionsgate for the UK.

The film has also sold to Benelux (Cineart), Germany (Kinowelt), Spain (Golem), Italy (Bim), most of Scandinavia (Scanbox), Finland (Cinema Mondo) and Sweden (Triart), Japan (Kino Film) and Australia (Hopscotch).

Mars Distribution will bring the film out in France at the end of August.

Other competition title Arnaud Desplechin’s Jimmy P. Psychotherapy Of A Plains Indian also did good business selling to Canada (Métropole), Latin America (California), Japan (Comstock), Israel (United King), Middle East (Front Row) and Turkey (Calinos) among others.

Discussions are currently underway for Italy and Germany. As previously announced, Worldview Entertainment has taken US rights and is seeking to partner with a distributor on the release. CAA negotiated the deal with Wild Bunch on behalf of Worldview. 

Key sales for James Gray’s 1920s New York-set, Marion Cotillard-starrer The Immigrant included to Benelux (Paradiso), Italy (Bim), Japan (Gaga) and Scandinavia (Scanbox).

The Weinstein Company acquired US rights to the film after Cannes 2012. Wild Bunch Distribution will release the picture in France at the end of November.

Wild Bunch also did good business on Japanese Hirokazu Kore-eda’s baby swap melodrama Like Father, Like Son which won the Jury Prize. 

The sixth competition title on the slate Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, which Wild Bunch co-handled with Gaumont, was practically sold-out before Cannes, revealed Baraton.

Despite mixed reviews during Cannes, the film appears to be holding up well at the French box office.

Released in France on May 22, the picture was the third biggest opener that week and attracted some 250,000 spectators in its first seven days on release, a comparable performance to Winding Refn’s previous cult hit Drive

Denis’ Bastards, which premiered in Un Certain Regard, also secured a slew of deals including to US (IFC) Benelux (Victory), Canada (Métropole), UK (Artificial Eye), Spain (Golem), Sweden (Triart), Denmark (Camera) and CIS (Russian Report).