EXCLUSIVE: In an interesting international tie-up, UK sales firm Protagonist Pictures and Germany’s 7500 and Stowaway producer Augenschein are teaming up to co-represent worldwide rights on select English-language movies.
Protagonist will serve as executive producers on the films in the new partnership and work with Augenschein to source finance for the projects. The companies will invest a portion of the funds generated by the sales into the co-development of select projects, with the aim of building a co-production slate.
The strategic alliance is not fully exclusive and will not prevent either company from continuing to work with others.
This is a smart move to bolster prominence in a market in which the streamers are increasingly dominant. We’ve heard for a while about the potential for sellers and distributors teaming up to increase their pulling power and distribution footprints.
The first project under the new deal will be elevated survival thriller The Dive which will star Sophie Lowe (The Slap) and Louisa Krause (Billions). Augenschein, which recently launched an in-house sales division, will co-rep world rights (including U.S.) with Protagonist and both will begin discussions with buyers at this month’s Cannes virtual market.
The movie, which is based on Swedish film Breaking Surface, charts the story of two sisters with a close but complex bond who go diving at a beautiful, remote location. During their dive, one of the sisters is struck by a rock from a landslide above the water, leaving her trapped on the seabed 28 meters below. With dangerously low levels of oxygen and cold temperatures, it is up to her sister to fight for her life, which in turn puts her own life in jeopardy.
Principal photography is due to start in mid-August on location in Malta and Germany.
The film is written and directed by rising German filmmaker Maximilian Erlenwein, known for crime-thriller Stereo, which debuted at Berlin and was picked up by Netflix. Producers are Augenschein’s Maximilian Leo and Jonas Katzenstein. Executive producers are Augenschein’s Jonathan Saubach and Philipp Stendebach, alongside Protagonist’s Dave Bishop, Luane Gauer, George Hamilton and Janina Vilsmaier.
Production is being financed by Augenschein with the support of Film- und Medienstiftung NRW, Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein and MFG Film Fund. Wild Bunch will release the movie locally in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and France. German free TV is licensed by ZDF.
DoP is Frank Griebe (Cloud Atlas) who will be supported by underwater cinematographer Jan Hinrich Hoffmann (Darkest Hour). Special effects will be handled by VFX studio LAVAlabs, who also provided the special effects for Augenschein’s Amazon acquisition 7500.
Augenschein has had eye-catching success with their genre pics 7500 and Stowaway (both sold to streamers in lucrative deals) and will be hoping for similar demand from this package.
Sophie Lowe most recently starred in Amazon’s Blow The Man Down, which debuted at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. She starred opposite Emilia Clarke, Jack Huston and Thora Birch in Phillip Noyce’s Above Suspicion, and co-starred with Charlotte Rampling and Willie Nelson in Lian Lunson’s Waiting for the Miracle to Come.
Krause’s feature credits include the Sundance and Berlinale animated movie Cryptozoo with Lake Bell and Michael Cera, Berlin entry Skin, and Todd Haynes’ Dark Waters with Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway. Her TV credits include Ray Donovan, The Girlfriend Experience and Showtime’s Billions.
Augenschein CEO and producer, Maximilian Leo, commented on the new deal: “We are absolutely thrilled to collaborate with the fantastic team at Protagonist and pool our resources and knowledge to create a best-in-class slate of films for the international marketplace. It’s the best of both worlds as we enhance the international landscape with the signature styles and voices of today’s brightest filmmakers.”
Protagonist Pictures Head of Sales, George Hamilton, added: “The super talented Augenschein team exemplifies the creative and business approach to successful and contemporary filmmaking. We are thrilled to be able to combine our collective strengths to launch original stories and voices into the global market but also to collaborate in developing them.”
Protagonist’s Cannes virtual market slate includes starry rom-com package She Came To Me, with Anne Hathaway, Tahar Rahim, Marisa Tomei, Joanna Kulig and Matthew Broderick.
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