More studios selling foreign rights to movies

Paramount Pictures is selling distribution rights in some foreign countries to "Flight."

There was a trend at the American Film Market in Santa Monica last week that hasn’t been seen in many years: major studios with access to worldwide operations selling foreign rights to their movies.

Sony Pictures, for instance, was selling distribution rights in some territories to the zombie/vampire/alien mash-up “Kitchen Sink.”

Paramount Pictures was looking for companies interested in handling some foreign release rights for its Alexander Payne-directed road trip drama “Nebraska” and announced it was doing the same for the Denzel Washington alcoholism drama “Flight.”

The 32 year-old AFM is not a place typically full of executives from major studios like Sony and Paramount. It’s known more for purveyors of low-budget movies featuring the stars of yesteryear that are destined to go direct-to-DVD in the U.S.


At this year’s AFM, which ends Wednesday, 8,000 attendees were expected to attend more than 700 screenings of 400 movies.

In late August, DreamWorks Studios signed a deal to sell international rights to its movies in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

It’s a sign of how tenuous film financing is, particularly for lower budget dramas with more limited international potential than special effects-laden spectacles.

As overseas box office receipts have grown substantially in the last two decades, Hollywood studios have invested in worldwide operations to capture as much of that revenue as possible.


But financing pictures has become more and more difficult with DVD sales falling and production costs rising. As a result, studios are seeking more creative ways to raise money for productions, particularly lower-budget dramas that aren’t sequels or adaptations and thus have less certain commercial prospects.

Even the big guys, it seems, sometimes have to hustle for a deal at AFM now.


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