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VarietyLA DVFLA021412 : Page 1

V PLUS: Spotlight: Hong Kong Cinema (p. 9-10) BERLIN BERLIN ® DAILY DAY 6 TUESD A Y , FEBRUARY 14, 2012 DAILY WARMING TREND By DIANA LODDERHOSE and ED MEZA The frosty temperatures in Ber-lin haven’t put a freeze on foreign buyers’ appetites as strong markets in parts of Western Europe, no-tably Germany and Blighty, have helped keep business solid and steady. A raft of hot titles, many of which came together very late in the game pre-EFM, have seen healthy business, with actioners and star-driven fare backed by quality scripts hitting the sweet spot for many buyers. So far, the attitude from most sellers is a positive one, with many reporting healthy sales that have met expectations. “Italy aside, the marketplace has been tremendously consistent over the last year and a half,” said FilmNation’s Glen Basner, “In general, we are getting what we believe we should receive in the marketplace. That’s a very healthy Robert Duvall and Kevin Bacon in “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” IN COMPETITION Euro markets showing buying power Jayne Mansfield’s Car (U.S.-Russia) Feuding families break down in ‘Car’ By JUSTIN CHANG Sellers at Berlin’s European Film Market, headquartered at the Martin Gropius Bau, are seeing steady biz on actioners and star-driven fare. statement.” His outfit has nearly sold out on titles such as J.C. Chandor’s “All Is Lost” with Rob-ert Redford, Philip Seymour Hoff-man starrer “A Most Wanted Man” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Bitter Pill.” (See story, below.) “The market this year is pretty steady,” says Paul Davidge of Ex-clusive Media, which sold Scar-lett Johansson starrer “Can a Song Save Your Life” to Alliance Films for the U.K. early on in the market. See MARKET page 15 A ge-old clashes between fathers and sons are the rusty en-gine parts that drive “Jayne Mansfield’s Car,” a wheezy, schematic ensembler centered around two families in 1969 Alabama. Billy Bob Thornton’s first writing-directing effort in more than a decade aspires to be a vintage piece of down-home storytelling replete with culture-clash comedy, dysfunctional angst and an overarching subtext about shifting Vietnam-era attitudes toward the heroism of war. But a fine cast can only do so much with the script’s pileup of generational con-flict and long-winded introspection, resulting in a willfully out-of-step picture that will struggle to connect with an audience. Turn to page 15 Sales ‘Punch’ for M6 Group By JOHN HOPEWELL In a further validation, if it were needed, of the market for upbeat comedies with an international reach, SND, the sales-distribu-tion arm of France’s M6 Group, has sold out most of the world on “Love Punch,” starring Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson. In a flurry of Berlin biz on “Punch,” a title that SND closed on the eve of Berlin, eOne has acquired U.K., Australia and Canada, Square One has taken Germany, Revolution-ary Releasing nabbed Russia and Eastern Europe and Pasatiempo Pic-tures has taken all of Latin America. SND itself will handle See ‘PUNCH’ page 14 Globe swallows ‘Pill’ By DIANA LODDERHOSE Glen Basner’s FilmNation Entertainment has virtually sold out the world on Steven Soderbergh’s newest pic “Bitter Pill” at the European Film Market. Pic has sold to eOne for U.K. and Canada, ARP for Gaul, Senator Entertainment in Germany and Aurum in Spain. “Bitter Pill,” which toplines Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta Jones, has proven to be one of the hottest titles at the market this year. Mara Other sales for the pic have gone Law to Australia (Roadshow), Eastern Europe (Revolutionary Releasing), CIS (Top Film), Benelux (In-dependent), Iceland (Sam Films), Israel (LEV Cinemas), Portugal (Lusomundo Audiovisuals) and Scandinavia (Svensk Filmindustri). Additional sales have gone to Switzerland (Elite Film), Turkey (Aqua Group), Latin America (Sun Distribution Group), India See ‘PILL’ page 15 Summit exec exit stirs buzz By DIANA LODDERHOSE Industryites in Berlin were abuzz with the news that indus-try stalwart David Garrett, Summit co-founder and president of inter-national, was exit-ing the company a Garrett mere month after the merger with Lionsgate. The news, which Variety broke out of Los Angeles on Sunday, came as a shock to many bizzers at the fest, particularly as Garrett is still selling Summit’s international slate includ-ing “Beautiful Creatures” and “The Tomb” at the European Film Market; both pics have virtually sold out. Garrett, Patrick Wachsberger and Bob Hayward launched Sum-mit in 1993 as a production, dis-tribution and sales operation. The company’s profile accelerated in recent years thanks to hits such as the “Twilight” franchise and Oscar-winner “The Hurt Locker.” It’s unclear why Garrett de-cided to ankle but sources suggest See GARRETT page 14 Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

Feuding Families Break Down In 'Car'

Justin Chang

Jayne Mansfield’s Car (U.S.-Russia)<br /> <br /> Age-old clashes between fathers and sons are the rusty engine parts that drive “Jayne Mansfield’s Car,” a wheezy, schematic ensembler centered around two families in 1969 Alabama. Billy Bob Thornton’s first writing-directing effort in more than a decade aspires to be a vintage piece of down-home storytelling replete with culture-clash comedy, dysfunctional angst and an overarching subtext about shifting Vietnam-era attitudes toward the heroism of war. But a fine cast can only do so much with the script’s pileup of generational conflict and long-winded introspection, resulting in a willfully outof- step picture that will struggle to connect with an audience.<br /> <br /> In line with some of Thornton’s earlier films, this largely Russian-financed yet thoroughly American feature is steeped in the language and atmosphere of the rural South; its characters’ tendency to speak in soulful anecdotes and monologues reps an unabashed throwback to a mostly bygone literary and cinematic tradition. Arriving in an era of widespread disenchantment with U.S. involvement in conflicts overseas, however, there’s something unavoidably retrograde about a late-’60s period piece whose primary purpose is to dispel any lingering temptation auds might feel to view the horrors of war through a romantic or nostalgic prism.<br /> <br /> Vexingly, this notion provides not only the subtext but the chief structuring device of Thornton’s screenplay (written with Tom Epperson, his scripting partner on “One False Move” and “A Family Thing”), which was drafted for the screen but at times feels as if it were adapted from a pre-existing novel or sub- Tennessee Williams play. Adding to the film’s overly studied quality is the title, a reference to the 1967 car accident that killed Mansfield and became a morbid pop-cultural touchstone, which serves here as a belabored metaphor for the American impulse to glamorize death.<br /> <br /> No one onscreen is more guilty of this than crusty patriarch Jim Caldwell (Robert Duvall), a WWI veteran who has raised his four children in the town of Morrison, Ala. Two of them, Skip (Thornton) and Carroll (Kevin Bacon), served valiantly in WWII but have mixed feelings about their experiences; Carroll is now an LSDusing hippie and Vietnam protest leader, while the more reserved Skip professes a mild taste for “underground music.” In the sort of overly tidy irony that will prove characteristic throughout, their brother Jimbo (Robert Patrick), the only Caldwell boy who didn’t go to war, shares his father’s rah-rah military zeal.<br /> <br /> Things are set in motion when Jim learns that his ex-wife and the mother of his children has died in the U.K. Even worse, she requested that her body be buried back in Morrison, and her second husband, Kingsley Bedford (John Hurt), is traveling from England with his own grown kids, Phillip (Ray Stevenson) and Camilla (Frances O’Connor), to attend the funeral. Jim’s daughter, blonde beauty Donna (Katherine LaNasa), has the bright idea of inviting the Bedfords over for dinner and having the two rival clans meet at long last.<br /> <br /> Yet apart from a few easy, stereotypical jabs about the Brits’ foul weather and even fouler food, the anticipated feud between the wronged Caldwells and the home-wrecking Bedfords never materializes. If anything, the families hit it off too well: Donna puts the moves on the handsome Phillip, while Skip asks the fetching Camilla to participate in his bizarre sexual fantasies; this builds unexpectedly to the film’s strongest sequence, in which Skip poignantly reveals the full extent of his war scars, physical and emotional.<br /> <br /> The point seems to be that strife between families is nothing compared with each family’s own internal father-son enmity. The undoing of “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” is that this discord expresses itself, with lumbering repetitiveness, through the characters’ arguments about their war records or lack thereof. Jim hates Carroll’s anti-war stance; Skip and Carroll resent Jim for not appreciating their efforts to follow in his footsteps; least plausibly of all, even Kingsley has an ax to grind over Phillip’s WWII service. All these simmering tensions come to a head on a dark and stormy night at the Caldwell estate marked by one candlelit confrontation after another, cloaked in such squintinducing shadows that the lensing seems to be paying homage to mid-’70s Gordon Willis.<br /> <br /> From an acting standpoint, a crucial flaw is that the core ensemble never plausibly coheres as a family; a late scene with Thornton’s Skip, Patrick’s Jimbo and Bacon’s Carroll smoking together outdoors points up this fundamental disconnect. Duvall comes off best in show, tearing into his old-coot role with relish and striking up a nice, curmudgeonly rapport with Hurt. By contrast, the excellent LaNasa and O’Connor feel limited by the fact that, in this male-weepie context, the women exist merely to listen to the men and appease them sexually, not always in that order.<br /> <br /> Georgia-lensed production boasts a rich sense of place abetted by a twangy score and period-appropriate soundtrack. Some tightening would improve the picture before release; the final scene in particular reps a prime candidate for excision.<br /> <br /> CREDITS: A Media Talent Group and A.R. Films presentation of a Geyer Kosinski/Alexander Donyansky production. Produced by Rodnyansky, Kosinski. Executive producers, Mark C. Manuel, Sergei Bespalov, James D. Brubaker, Robert Teitel.<br /> <br /> Directed by Billy Bob Thornton. Screenplay, Thornton, Tom Epperseon. Camera (Deluxe color, Panavision widescreen), Barry Markowitz; editor, Lauren Zuckerman; music, Owen Easterling Hatfield; music supervisor, Rick Clark; production designer, Clark Hunter; set decorator, Traci Kirshbaum; costume designer, Doug Hall; sound (Dolby Digital/ SDDS), Matthew Nicolay; supervising sound editor, Andrew De Cristofaro; rerecording mixers, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti; stunt coordinator, Andy Martin; associate producers, Ivan Philippov, Chris Davey; assistant director/second unit director, James Alan Hensz; casting, Mary Vernieu, Lindsay Graham. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (competing), Feb. 13, 2012. Running time: 121 MIN.<br /> <br /> Jim Caldwell ................... Robert Duvall<br /> Kingsley Bedford ................... John Hurt<br /> Skip Caldwell .......... Billy Bob Thornton<br /> Carroll Caldwell ................ Kevin Bacon<br /> Jimbo Caldwell ............... Robert Patrick<br /> Phillip Bedford ............... Ray Stevenson<br /> Donna Baron ............. Katherine LaNasa<br /> Camilla Bedford ....... Frances O’Connor<br /> Vicky Caldwell .............. Shawnee Smith<br /> Neal Baron ............................ Ron White<br /> Mickey Caldwell ... John Patrick Amedori<br /> Alan Caldwell ............. Marshall Allman<br /> Dorothy Lambert ................. Irma P. Hall<br /> <br /> (English dialogue)<br />

Warming Trend

Diana Lodderhose And Ed Meza

Euro markets showing buying power<br /> <br /> The frosty temperatures in Berlin haven’t put a freeze on foreign buyers’ appetites as strong markets in parts of Western Europe, notably Germany and Blighty, have helped keep business solid and steady.<br /> <br /> A raft of hot titles, many of which came together very late in the game pre-EFM, have seen healthy business, with actioners and star-driven fare backed by quality scripts hitting the sweet spot for many buyers.<br /> <br /> So far, the attitude from most sellers is a positive one, with many reporting healthy sales that have met expectations.<br /> <br /> “Italy aside, the marketplace has been tremendously consistent over the last year and a half,” said FilmNation’s Glen Basner, “In general, we are getting what we believe we should receive in the marketplace. That’s a very healthy statement.” His outfit has nearly sold out on titles such as J.C. Chandor’s “All Is Lost” with Robert Redford, Philip Seymour Hoffman starrer “A Most Wanted Man” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Bitter Pill.” (See story, below.)<br /> <br /> “The market this year is pretty steady,” says Paul Davidge of Exclusive Media, which sold Scarlett Johansson starrer “Can a Song Save Your Life” to Alliance Films for the U.K. early on in the market <br /> <br /> “I wouldn’t say there’s a huge leap in comparison from last year’s Berlinale,” he remarked. “However, we’ve felt that the buyers have been pretty buoyant this year.” He singled out strong markets in Germany, France, the U.K. and Switzerland.<br /> <br /> “It’s good to see Western Europe getting a bit of a boost from these sectors,” he added.<br /> <br /> And it’s true: German buyers have been showing their muscle this year, with many distribs playing on the relative strength of the free-TV market coupled with intense competition in the territory.<br /> <br /> One German distrib noted that prices have been rising on specific types of films, such as the $10 million Kate Hudson starrer “Everly,” which is being shopped by Sierra/ Affinity. Splendid reportedly paid $1.2 million for the pic for Germany, Switzerland and Benelux.<br /> <br /> “It’s Kate Hudson, who’s mostly known for romantic comedies, in a room pitted against Japanese assassins. It sounds great,” remarked the distrib.<br /> <br /> Likewise, it was known that Summit was asking around $5 million for the U.K. rights for supernatural teen drama “Beautiful Creatures” but even that price was eclipsed by German distrib Tele Muenchen Group, which acquired the title for a reported $8 million, although that price is said to include a second title as well.<br /> <br /> “Yes — the pricing for Germany is going up — definitely on the titles that everybody wants,” said Martin Moszkowicz, Constantin’s head of film and television. <br /> <br /> Moszkowicz opined that the high prices do not necessarily “reflect a stronger domestic German market, but rather stronger competition among distributors. The theatrical, home entertainment and TV markets have remained more or less on the same level for the last years. The market will readjust when distributors get hit by losses due to overpaid advances.” <br /> <br /> Actioners have really clicked with buyers at the EFM, with the $84 million Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg starrer “2 Guns” heating up sales for Mark Damon’s Foresight Unlimited.<br /> <br /> Project created a stir among distribs in the first few days of the market, with Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions nabbing multiterritory rights for the project on the first day of the fest. Eone took U. K. and Canadian rights for a cool $10.6 million.<br /> <br /> Canadian-based distribs eOne and Alliance Films, which both have hubs in Blighty, have also been hungry and aggressive for product.<br /> <br /> “Everly,” the second project from Crime Scene Pictures, has gone gangbusters at the market: Alliance and eOne battled it out for U.K. and Canadian rights, with Alliance emerging victorious early on in the market.<br /> <br /> Eone will go home with a handful of titles, including Jennifer Aniston starrer “Miss You Already” and “Bitter Pill” in addition to “2 Guns.” <br /> Three strong-selling arthousecrossover pics include Wild Bunch’s “Populaire,” “Renoir” and “In the House,” from Francois Ozon. All three, according to Wild Bunch’s Vincent Maraval, will be sold out by the end of the market.<br /> <br /> And according to Bankside Films’ Stephen Kelliher, EFM has been a very healthy market this year.<br /> <br /> “Berlin has proved to be a buoyant market, especially on projects where the cast, director and genre make sense to the buyers who are as discerning as ever,” said Bankside Films’ Stephen Kelliher, who reported strong sales on Helen Mirren starrer “The Door,” Annette Bening starrer “The Great” and the Damian Jones produced “Belle.” <br /> <br /> Projects such as I'm Global’s adult puppet pic “The Happytime Murders,” toplining Katherine Heigl, have certainly caused a stir among buyers, with deals on the project yet to be announced.<br /> <br /> According to topper Stuart Ford, there has been a large number of offers on the pic but, with producer Brian Henson having been in town to pitch it to buyers, “the deals have taken longer” as Henson is keen to have the pic sit with the right distrib, and not just one that offers a big number.<br /> <br /> (John Hopewell contributed to this report.)

Summit Exec Exit Stirs Buzz

Diana Lodderhose

Industryites in Berlin were abuzz with the news that industry stalwart David Garrett, Summit co-founder and president of international, was exiting the company a mere month after the merger with Lionsgate.<br /> <br /> The news, which Variety broke out of Los Angeles on Sunday, came as a shock to many bizzers at the fest, particularly as Garrett is still selling Summit’s international slate including “Beautiful Creatures” and “The Tomb” at the European Film Market; both pics have virtually sold out.<br /> <br /> Garrett, Patrick Wachsberger and Bob Hayward launched Summit in 1993 as a production, distribution and sales operation. The company’s profile accelerated in recent years thanks to hits such as the “Twilight” franchise and Oscarwinner “The Hurt Locker.” It’s unclear why Garrett decided to ankle but sources suggest he simply did not want to continue under the terms of the merger.<br /> <br /> Rumors circulating the EFM indicate that Garrett was keen to set up a new company with Wachsberger post-merger, but that didn’t transpire.<br /> <br /> The question is, who will head international sales post merger?<br /> <br /> Speculation is mounting that Lionsgate’s prexy of international sales, Helen Lee Kim, Garrett’s counterpart, will fill the overarching international sales position.<br /> <br /> Kim is also at the Berlinale talking to buyers, but unlike Summit, didn’t bring titles to the market.<br /> <br /> A merged Lionsgate and Summit will both have to slash positions.<br /> <br /> However, it was believed the sales teams — Summit’s headed by Garrett and Lionsgate’s by Kim — would continue as is for 2012 with both reporting to Wachsberger.<br /> <br /> Garrett’s resignation is a blow to the international sales industry. He has headed up Summit’s London base since 1993 and has served as international supervisor over Summit-produced, coproduced and acquired titles such as “American Pie,” “Memento,” “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” “Babel” and “Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.” <br /> <br /> Garrett begain his entertainment industry career in 1981 producing and marketing docus.<br /> <br /> He was a pioneer in the early days of U.K. cable and satellite TV development.<br /> <br /> (Rachel Abrams and Josh Dickey contributed to this report.)

Sales 'Punch' For M6 Group

John Hopewell

In a further validation, if it were needed, of the market for upbeat comedies with an international reach, SND, the sales-distribution arm of France’s M6 Group, has sold out most of the world on “Love Punch,” starring Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson.<br /> <br /> In a flurry of Berlin biz on “Punch,” a title that SND closed on the eve of Berlin, eOne has acquired U. K., Australia and Canada, Square One has taken Germany, Revolutionary Releasing nabbed Russia and Eastern Europe and Pasatiempo Pictures has taken all of Latin America.<br /> <br /> SND itself will handle distribution in France.<br /> <br /> Other top deals include Spain (Antena 3/DeAPlaneta Spain), the Middle East (Gulf), Greece (Village Greece), India (Pictureworks) and Israel (Forum Films).<br /> <br /> With Benelux and Scandinavia under negotiations, the only major territories currently left on the table are Japan, Italy and the U.S. <br /> <br /> Joel Hopkins (“Jump Tomorrow,” “Last Chance Harvey”) wrote and will direct “Punch.” <br /> <br /> Brosnan and Thompson play a retired divorced couple whose pension is stolen by an unscrupulous businessman. Reuniting, they pursue him from London to the South of France, and begin to rediscover why they fist fell in love.<br /> <br /> “Love Punch” shoots over the summer in the U.K. and France.<br /> <br /> Beyond worldwide sales, SND finances and co-produces with the U. K.’s Process Media and France’s Radar Films and Forecast Pictures.<br /> <br /> “With this director and cast, there is a real and underserved audience for this kind of feel-good fun movie,” said Lionel Uzan, SND-M6’s director of acquisitions and international sales, referring to adults over 30.

Globe Swallows 'Pill'

Diana Lodderhose

Glen Basner’s FilmNation Entertainment has virtually sold out the world on Steven Soderbergh’s newest pic “Bitter Pill” at the European Film Market.<br /> <br /> Pic has sold to eOne for U.K. and Canada, ARP for Gaul, Senator Entertainment in Germany and Aurum in Spain.<br /> <br /> “Bitter Pill,” which toplines Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta Jones, has proven to be one of the hottest titles at the market this year.<br /> <br /> Other sales for the pic have gone to Australia (Roadshow), Eastern Europe (Revolutionary Releasing), CIS (Top Film), Benelux (Independent), Iceland (Sam Films), Israel (LEV Cinemas), Portugal (Lusomundo Audiovisuals) and Scandinavia (Svensk Filmindustri).<br /> <br /> Additional sales have gone to Switzerland (Elite Film), Turkey (Aqua Group), Latin America (Sun Distribution Group), India and Pakistan (Tanweer Films), Indonesia (PT Amero), South Korea (Noori) and South Africa (Ster Kinekor).<br /> <br /> Scott Z. Burns penned the script, which revolves around a young woman who is taking large amounts of prescription drugs to deal with anxiety and depression surrounding her husband’s upcoming release from prison.<br /> <br /> Open Road will distribute the project in the U.S. while Lorenzo Di Bonaventura and Gregory Jacobs produce. Pic is financed by Endgame and 1984 Private Defense Contractors and is skedded to begin lensing in April 2012.<br /> <br /> FilmNation has concluded a raft of deals on its lineup: Outfit has nearly sold out on many of its projects including J.C. Chandor’s Robert Redford starrer “All is Lost,” which went to Universal for Blighty, Gaul, Italy, Spain, Eastern Europe, Benelux and Scandinavia and has also reported brisk sales on Eli Roth’s “Aftershock.” <br /> <br /> Earlier in the market, its Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s starrer “A Most Wanted Man” was picked up by Alliance Films’s U.K. arm Momentum Pictures.

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