Well Go USA has set a June 3 U.S. release for Na Hong-jin’s Korean box office smash The Wailing. The thriller is an Official Selection here in Cannes and screens out of competition on Wednesday. Fox International Productions and Ivanhoe Pictures co-produced and co-financed the pic, which debuted in Korea on Friday. It grossed a staggering $16.5M at open, becoming Fox’s biggest launch in the market — outstripping previous record holder The Martian. The movie centers on the arrival of a mysterious old stranger in an otherwise quiet village. As rumors begin to spread about him, the villagers drop dead one by one, grotesquely killing each other for inexplicable reasons. When the daughter of the investigating officer falls under the same savage spell, he calls for a shaman to assist in finding the culprit. This is Na’s first film in six years. His credits include feature debut The Chaser in 2008 and follow-up The Yellow Sea in 2010 and in which FIP was also involved.
TrustNordisk has completed key sales on Ole Bornedal’s black comedy Small Town Killers. The film tells the story of two tradesmen, Ib and Edward, who are tired of their lifeless marriages and dream of living the good life using the stash of money they have earned moonlighting for years. After a huge fight with their wives, the two men get drunk and hire a Russian contract killer to do a hit on them. But they have badly underestimated their spouses, kicking off an absurd journey where Ib and Edward end up at the top of a kill list. Germany, Austria and Switzerland have been acquired by DCM; Poland by M2 Films; ex-Yugoslavia by Cinemania Group; and Hong Kong by Edko. Further territories are in negotiations. Bornedal is the director of features Nightwatch and I Am Dina, as well as recent TV series 1864. Ulrich Thomsen (The Commune), Nicolas Bro (Nymphomaniac), Lene Maria Christensen (Arvingerne) and Mia Lyhne (Clown The Movie, Borgen) star. Danish distribution will go through Nordisk Film on December 25.
StudioCanal and Element Pictures Distribution have acquired all UK and Irish
rights to Viva, the Irish-Cuban film shortlisted in 2016 for the Best Foreign Language Feature Oscar. Directed by Paddy Breathnach and written by Mark O’Halloran, the Havana-based story centers on Jesus, who longs to be a glamorous drag queen only to have his dreams take a detour when his estranged and very macho father returns from a long stint in prison. Jorge Perugorria, Luis Alberto Garcia and Hector Medina star in the film produced by Robert Walpole and Rebecca O’Flanagan of Treasure Entertainment. Element will open Viva in theaters in Ireland this summer, with StudioCanal overseeing the UK release. Magnolia opened it in the U.S. last month. Mongrel Entertainment is selling the film at Cannes.
Oscilloscope Laboratories has acquired the U.S. rights to Notes on Blindness, the feature documentary debut of Peter Middleton and James Spinney. Based on the Emmy-winning short film, it centers on writer and theologian John Hull. In the summer of 1983, after years of deteriorating vision and just days before the birth of his first son, he lost the last traces of light sensation. For the next three years, he kept an audio diary of his interior world of blindness. Embedding original documentary elements within cinematic interpretations and textured sound design, the filmmakers take the viewer on an illuminating and deeply personal journey deep into what Hull calls “a world beyond sight.” Oscilloscope acquired the rights from Tel-Aviv based sales company Cinephil, whose Heather Wyer negotiated the deal. The film, which premiered at Sundance, also has been acquired by Blue Ice Docs in Canada and Artificial Eye in the U.K., where the film hit hit in theaters this summer.
Erik Pedersen contributed to this report.