Asian Films at Cannes

So with all the attention focused on Asian films this year, will any be seen in U.S. cinemas?

Before the festival began, Tartan USA (partnered with Vitagraph and Dodo Films) made a deal for OLD BOY. The director’s SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE and also the horror flick A TALE OF TWO SISTERS were previously sold to the outfit; we’ll see how the company schedules their distribution. One release per month is ambitious for most of the smaller distributors; Tartan plans to begin with the French ANATOMY OF HELL at the end of August.

Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 is sure to find distribution, and will likely find a home with one of the larger speciality divisions. Expect premiere screenings at the Toronto and New York festivals before its release.

The good thing about Sony Pictures Classics picking up Zhang Yimou’s HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS is that they will be sure to release the darn thing. It may be a while before it gets out there, though. The same company has Zhou Yu’s TRAIN in early July and He Ping’s WARRIORS OF HEAVEN AND EARTH scheduled for late August. They could place it in October or November, to give it a little distance from WARRIORS, which could be seen as a similar picture.

Award-winning (for acting) NOBODY KNOWS is a 148-minute family drama and would not be an easy sell. I would imagine any potential distributor would count on wider festival exposure to build word of mouth and critical upside. But it’s still dodgy.

Johnny To’s latest, BREAKING NEWS, was a last-moment addition to the Competition, but apparently generated little press. Instead, Palm Pictures picked up PTU, which played festivals and special screenings last year, and plans a January 2005 release. The same company picked up LAST LIFE IN THE UNIVERSE, BRIGHT FUTURE, and DOLLS, among others, last year, but has been content to feature these at festival and special screenings rather than roll any of them into the general arthouse marketplace.

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