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Strike Fear Heats Up the Market; 'Enigma' and 'Brotherhood of the Wolf' Land With Manhattan and Universal

24 Apr, 2001 By: Hive News

With the Cannes Film Festival just three weeks away and strikes threatening to turn put a serious crimp in Hollywood's product flow, studio executives are scrambling to close deals and screen dozens of new projects now on offer from sales agents, according to Inside.com.

At least two films, Michael Apted's Enigma and French blockbuster Brotherhood of the Wolf have recently found U.S. distributors, and more deals are expected in coming weeks.

"People are screening all the films that didn't get into Cannes," said one harried studio buyer who said there was definitely pressure to buy because of the looming strikes. "I've been screening two films every day."

This week's must-see acquisitions screenings have included the Swingers-esque Sol Good, starring Balthazar Getty, and The Perfect You, a romantic comedy starring Jenny McCarthy. Other high-profile titles making the rounds pre-Cannes include Seven Arts Pictures' Cletis Tout, starring Tim Allen and Christian Slater, and The Devil's Backbone, a horror film from Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro Mimic). In addition these ad hoc screenings, specialized film buyers combed last weekend's Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, for undiscovered gems.

Paul Cohen and Julius Nasso's Manhattan Pictures International is dotting the i's and crossing the t's on a domestic distribution deal for Enigma, the World War II romantic drama starring Dougray Scott, Kate Winslet, Jeremy Northam and Saffron Burrows. The company is said to have paid about $2 million plus a significant P&A commitment for U.S. rights to the film. Miramax has picked up UK rights to Enigma, which was produced by Mick Jagger and Lorne Michaels. The film, based on the novel by Robert Harris adapted for the screen by Tom Stoppard, focuses on the lives and loves of British code breakers.

Financed by Intermedia and Senator Films, Enigma premiered at January's Sundance Film Festival, to mixed reactions. But upbeat reviews sparked post-festival interest from several domestic distributors including Paramount Classics and Miramax.

Enigma would mark the first high-profile acquisition for Manhattan Pictures, which was launched shortly before Sundance by Nasso, Steven Seagal's former producing partner, and Cohen, co-founder of Stratosphere Entertainment.

Meanwhile, Universal Pictures has acquired U.S. distribution rights to French director Christophe Gans' Brotherhood of the Wolf, which it will release in the fall of 2001 under the Universal Focus specialized film banner. Released in France on January 31, the film broke the opening day box office record of $1.4 million formerly held by Titanic by debuting at $1.5 million. Titled Le Pacte de Loups in its native country, the film has grossed about $35 million in France.

Brotherhood stars Samuel Le Bihan, martial arts star Mark Dacascos and Monica Belluci (Malena). It was produced by Davis Films and Universal's new French sister company, StudioCanal.

Set in the mid-1700s, the film is based on the French legend of an unseen creature that kills women and children. Desperate to end the growing unrest of the populace, the King sends in a renowned scientist and his Iroquois blood brother to bring the beast down.

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