EXCLUSIVE– Keira Knightley biopic Colette, about the French novelist who wrote Gigi and Cheri, has sold out for Hanway Films. The project, produced by Number 9 Films, Killer Films and Bold Films- who also finance- has proven to be one of the hot titles at this year’s EFM in Berlin.
The deals closed include France (Mars), Germany and Austria (DCM), Italy (Good Films), Spain (DeAPlaneta), Scandinavia (Scanbox), Japan (Tohokushinsha), Australia/New Zealand (Transmission), Latin America (Sun Distribution), South Korea (Rollong & First Run), Poland (Monolith), Czech/Slovak Republics (AQS), Former Yugoslavia (Discovery), Greece and Cyprus (Odeon), Portugal (Lusomundo), Baltics (Acme), Middle East (Front Row), South Africa (Ster Kinekor), Hong Kong (Sundream), Taiwan (Filmware) and Airlines (Jaguar).
A deal for the UK is also in the advanced stages of closing. WME is repping the domestic rights.
Colette will be directed by Still Alice‘s Wash Westmoreland, who co-wrote the script with his late Still Alice collaborator Richard Glatzer. It marks Bold Films’ first foray into a UK production, with Bold chairman Michel Litvak producing and chief exec Gary Michael Walters exec producing. The film also re-unites the team behind Carol, with Elizabeth Karlsen and Stephen Woolley producing for Number 9 Films and Pam Koffler and Christine Vachon producing for Killer Films with Hanway Films selling.
The strong market reaction to the film continues Hanway’s stellar year, following on from landing a headline-grabbing $9 million for John Crowley’s Brooklyn at Sundance last year (a deal co-brokered with CAA), Charlie Kaufman’s Anomalisa and, of course, Carol, leading to 10 Academy Award nominations, 15 BAFTA nominations and 9 Indie Spirit noms in total across the company’s slate.
“It’s been our most successful year ever,” says Hanway managing director Thorsten Schumacher, who has been with the company since 2003 and MD since 2010. “Over the last five years, we have built a really strong team at Hanway across business affairs, sales and marketing. We’ve worked very hard in securing and maintaining a core set of relationships with producers like Elizabeth and Stephen. We’ve developed a shorthand with producers creatively that allows us to integrate the sales and finance process with their producing process. We’re now seeing those rewards.”
Key to Hanway’s current success has been the foundation of strong relationships with some of the best and most productive producers in the UK, notably Number 9, Finola Dwyer and Amanda Posey’s Wild Gaze (Brooklyn), Iain Canning and Emile Sherman’s See-Saw Films (How To Talk To Girls At Parties) and Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin’s Blueprint Pictures.
The success of Colette at this year’s EFM underscores again to what extent Hanway has become a go-to destination for producers looking to deliver well-priced, high-end fare for the international marketplace. That taste emanates from within the company’s DNA and, most clearly, its founder Jeremy Thomas, whose the Recorded Picture Company also puts its projects through the Hanway pipeline.
“We have a real ethos at the company,” says Jeremy Thomas. “We’re not scattershot. We’ve developed the process of deep selling, where we get every bit of value from a film, down to festival screenings. A sales company has to move with what’s happening in the industry. The company is set up to handle international, quality films. It’s what I designed for my own films.”
Thomas’ RPC has a number of new projects including Julian Temple’s Kinks biopic You Really Got Me, Takashi Miike’s Blade of the Immortal, which is currently filming, and a high profile project set to be unveiled in time for Cannes. Hanway will rep international sales on all of those titles. It’s a measure of Hanway’s eclectic tastes that it can handle filmmakers as diverse and different as Temple, Takashi Miike and Todd Haynes.
“I think being based in London really gives us a unique perspective,” says Schumacher. “We don’t just have strong relationships with producers but also European distributors. Once a month one of the team is in Paris, Munich, Rome or Berlin to meet with distributors. We go further down the line and integrate the distributor in as either an anchor distributor or even a cornerstone financier. I’m also in LA every 8 weeks. We handle projects conceived out of the UK, Japan, China, Australia. We’re probably more globally operating than other sales agencies because we’re not stuck in Pacific standard time.”