In a high profile move that underlines the growing co-operation between the two companies, Pathe Distribution and FilmFour have picked up UK rights to Bulletproof Monk. In another deal begun at Cannes, Filmax confirmed that it is to handle Spanish rights to the picture.
The $55m action-adventure is the first to emerge from Signpost Films, the new production and distribution stable headed by Stewart Till. It is directed by commercials and video-clip director Paul Hunter and stars Chow Yun-fat, Sean Williams Scott and supermodel-turned actress Jaime King (aka James King). Filming of the story about a mysterious Tibetan monk in search of a worthy successor began in Canada in March and is due to wrap next week.
"We are delighted that Pathe and FilmFour have come on board. They are a great combination," said Nicole Mackey, Signpost's president of international sales.
Pathe will handle UK theatrical, DVD and video rights, with the film also expected to pass through Pathe's pay-TV deal with BSkyB before accessing the FilmFour Channel.
Bulletproof Monk is the third film to be jointly acquired by the pair after Resident Evil (to be released by Pathe next month) and K-Pax, released in April by FilmFour.
The partnership involves full sharing of costs and is intended to allow them to spread risk while increasing the scale of projects being bought. They take it in turns to handle the theatrical release. Negotiations are led by the partner handling the theatrical rights.
"This relationship is working really well and we expect to announce several more deals in the very near future," said FilmFour insiders. "We are also pleased to be in business with Signpost. They are really well organised on the distribution, publicity and marketing fronts and the footage we saw at Cannes of Bulletproof Monk was simply fantastic."
Although the deal was agreed in principle at AFM, where the film was first offered to buyers, negotiations are understood to have been extended by the dual buying structure and by issues of gross point participation. Gross participants include producer Charles Roven and Chow.
The film, which is also produced by John Woo and Terence Chang, will be distributed by MGM in North America with a release scheduled for Spring 2003. Other previously announced deals have included Golden Harvest for Chow's home territory of Hong Kong and Malaysia, Golden Harvest-Village Roadshow for Singapore and RCV for The Netherlands.