EXCLUSIVE: Glen Basner’s FilmNation will handle international sales at Cannes on a brace of Amazon Studios’ pictures: Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck and Doug Liman’s The Wall. The move represents the beginning of a potentially more strategic partnership between the two companies, both of which have aligned “smart house” tastes and excellent filmmaker relationships and reputations. For now, however, the deal is limited to those two pictures. Both FilmNation and Amazon declined to comment when contacted by Deadline. The priority for Amazon, which is producing and fully financing both movies, is to enhance the films’ international profiles and distribution. Both films will be released theatrically and Deadline understands that Amazon wants to ensure it finds the right partners in each territory for the films as a priority above simply which distribs offer the higher MG. It is part of Amazon’s overall strategy to establish itself as a leading generator of upscale, intelligent indie fare across multiple platforms, including theatrical and on-demand.
The deal represents another seal of approval for Basner’s FilmNation, which has solidly established itself as one of the leading international sales and finance film companies since the former Weinstein Co. exec launched it in 2008. In 2014, FilmNation inked a deal with Open Road that sees the company handling international sales on productions brought forward by the AMC-Regal founded company. One such project, family film Show Dogs, is on FilmNation’s Cannes slate.
Wonderstruck sees Haynes reuniting with Julianne Moore and producer Christine Vachon’s Killer Films, along with Michelle Williams (Manchester By the Sea) and Oaks Fegley (The Truth About Lies). The film will be based on a children’s book by Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret) that follows two deaf children, set 50 years apart, who dream of different lives. Amazon Studios is set to release the film theatrically in the U.S. next year.
Liman’s The Wall, which is currently out to cast, is about an American sharpshooter trapped in a standoff with an Iraqi sniper. Dwain Worrell has written that script.
This year’s Cannes is shaping up as Amazon’s biggest ever international festival presence. The company is opening the fest with Woody Allen’s Cafe Society, with an all-star cast that includes Kristen Stewart, Blake Lively, Jesse Eisenberg and Anna Camp. Amazon, with 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, will release the film on July 15.
Amazon also has Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson, Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon and Park Chan-wook’s The Handmaiden in competition, and Jarmusch’s Iggy Pop documentary Gimme Danger as a special screening — more than any other studio.