EXCLUSIVE: Ivanhoe Pictures and Beijing Galloping Horse Film Co. have gotten official approval to slot the John Carney-directed Begin Again for 2015 theatrical rollout in China. The film premiered at the 2013 Toronto under the title Can A Song Save Your Life, and became the festival’s biggest acquisition deal when The Weinstein Company bought it for $7 million. The film, which stars Mark Ruffalo as a down and out record exec who finds his mojo after hearing the painful songs of an artist (Keira Knightley) who was dumped by her rock star beau (Adam Levine), only grossed $16 million domestically, but it has done $47 million overseas for a $63 million worldwide gross. I honestly thought would have been a much bigger hit–a Best Picture nominee, even–based on the reaction in Toronto and the magical way that Carney blended a love of music and the vistas of New York, and I have wondered since if I was suffering from festival fever when I first saw it. I didn’t care for the changed title, which to me seemed vague and didn’t capture the essence of the film nearly as well as Carney’s original title. The film has scored in some territories like Korea, where it became the highest grossing English language independent film ever. It has a chance to escalate that gross significantly in China, where the film won a price for Best Music when it played the Shanghai International Film Festival.
Ivanhoe Pictures CEO John Penotti confirmed the deal. “Building on the momentum of Shanghai International Film Festival, we could not be more thrilled to now bring Begin Again to the general public in China,” he said. “Its universal themes and stirring music can be appreciated across every culture. Ivanhoe’s team in Beijing and Beijing Galloping Horse are excited to continue the amazing energy that has propelled the film to such great success around the globe.”