If you feel like you've been hearing a lot of news lately about movie distribution deals, that's because the annual American Film Market (AFM) has been going on in Santa Monica for the past week. The AFM website claims that more than $800 million in deals are made every year at the industry event. Three more distribution deals have just been announced:
  • The Weinstein Company bought the U.S. distribution rights to Death Defying Acts, a feature about the life of illusionist Harry Houdini. Perhaps the recent success of The Prestige and The Illusionist inspired the deal. The film is directed by Gillian Armstrong and stars Guy Pearce as Houdini, who becomes involved with a psychic played by Catherine Zeta-Jones. One of the writers is Tony Grisoni, whose writing credits include Brothers of the Head, Tideland, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Armstrong is good at turning a biography into an interesting movie, as with My Brilliant Career, and the combination of her direction and Grisoni's writing has suddenly made me twice as interested as I would normally be in a film about Houdini. (Okay, Guy Pearce was also an influence.) TWC intends to premiere the film at Cannes in 2007.
  • Palm Pictures picked up the North American rights to distribute Solo Dios Sabe (Only God Knows), a Brazilian drama that debuted at Sundance earlier this year. Palm plans to release the film in theaters in early 2007. The film stars Alice Braga (City of God) and Diego Luna (Y Tu Mama Tambien) as a Brazilian student and Mexican journalist travelling together.
  • Strand Releasing acquired the North American rights to White Palms, a Hungarian movie about young gymnasts. The movie is Hungary's entry in the Academy Awards' Foreign Language Film category for 2006. Strand is apparently betting the movie will make the cut to the final Oscar nominations and subsequently garner more publicity. White Palms sounds fascinating to me, as it contrasts Eastern European and North American methods of training young athletes in gymnatics. I'm looking forward to the chance to see the film.