EXCLUSIVE: Amazon Studios has picked up another buzzy art house title by acquiring rights to Oscar-winning filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman. Amazon will partner on domestic distribution of the film, which plays in competition in Cannes, with Cohen Media Group. This is another prestige get for the film division of the online retail giant and another sign of its emergence as a key player in the indie, art house scene.
One could argue Amazon is on the way to becoming indie-art house stalwart Sony Pictures Classics’ biggest rival both symbolically and practically. Farhadi had previously enjoyed much such success with SPC, winning the Best Foreign Language Academy Award for A Separation. SPC’s Tom Barker and Michael Bernard also are handling domestic on his follow-up The Past starring Tahar Rahim and Berenice Bejo.
Farhadi isn’t the only SPC regular to swap sides. Frequent SPC collaborator Woody Allen partnered with Amazon on his latest Cafe Society, which opened Cannes, with an all-star cast including Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively, Jesse Eisenberg and Anna Camp. Amazon also brought Jim Jarmusch’s well-received Paterson, Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon and Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden all in competition, and Jarmusch’s Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Danger as a special screening — more than any other studio.
Amazon is being led by indie stalwarts Ted Hope and Bob Berney and the senior leadership of Jason Ropell, worldwide head of motion pictures, and studio chief Roy Price shaping the company’s strategy.
Amazon also inked a two-picture deal with Glen Basner’s FilmNation to handle international sales on Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck and Doug Liman’s The Wall. It started the fest with a bang, acquiring Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really There with Joaquin Phoenix. Deadline broke that story.