EXCLUSIVE: Roman Polanski’s dark comedy The Palace has sold to a host of key territories ahead of its Venice premiere, with distributors getting behind the film in spite of the controversy surrounding the director.
Goodfellas has unveiled deals to Benelux (Paradiso Films), Spain (Vértigo Films), Germany (Weltkino), Greece (Spentzos) and Portugal (Nos Lusomondo) in Western Europe.
Eastern and Central European distributors have also snapped up the film with sales to Bulgaria (Beta Film), Yugoslavia (MCF), Hungary (Cirko), the Czech Republic and Slovakia (Pilot Films) and CIS (Pro:vzglyad).
The Palace will be launched theatrically in Italy on September 28 by 01 Distribution. Its parent Rai Cinema is a key partner on the production alongside lead producer Luca Barbareschi.
Lausanne-based CAB Productions, which is also a producer, holds Swiss rights. Tomasz Przybecki is handling Polish rights in a deal brokered by Barbareschi.
The deals come amid fierce debate in the film world and beyond over whether Polanski should be endorsed or not as an artist while 1973 charges of unlawful sex with a minor in the U.S. remain unresolved.
Polanski, who turned 90 earlier this month, is not expected in Venice for the Out of Competition gala Sala Grande premiere on September 2.
Venice Artistic Director Alberto Barbera, who also invited Polanski’s Dreyfus Affair drama An Officer And A Spy to the festival in 2019, has batted back criticism over his decision to invite the new film.
Key territories still outstanding include Polanski’s home territory of France, where An Officer And A Spy, grossed close to $12 million for Gaumont in 2017.
While Polanski continues to have loyal supporters at home, criticism of the director has intensified in France since 2017, amid the rise of the MeToo movement and a fifth accusation of sexual assault, which he has denied.
There are also no deals as yet for the U.S. or the UK, as was the case for An Officer And A Spy.
The Palace unfolds against the backdrop of Switzerland’s luxury Gstaad Palace hotel, is a satire revolving around the chasm between its ultra-rich clients and those who serve them in the lead-up to a lavish New Year Party on the eve of 2000.
On the basis of first trailer launched earlier this month, the film – featuring Mickey Rourke, Fanny Ardant and John Cleese in the ensemble cast – the feature looks set to one of the most comedic works of Polanski’s career.
Taking inspiration from his own stays at the Gstaad Palace, Polanski wrote the screenplay with Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski and producer Ewa Piaskowska. Longtime collaborator Alexandre Desplat composed the score.
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