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Cannes 2017: China, Asia take lion's share of new businesses at Cannes

S&P Global Market Intelligence provides a three-part roundup of key industry news announced at the annual Cannes Film Festival, which took place May 17-28 in Cannes, France. Part 1 covered European markets, part 2 is about the Asia-Pacific region and part 3 will be made available June 1. Today: Part 2.

Asia-Pacific's participation at the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival competition was scarce, but the region still made a mark at the event.

Chinese filmmaker Qiu Yang's "A Gentle Night," a 15-minute film about a mother searching for her missing daughter on the eve of the Lunar New Year, scooped the Short Film Palme d'Or. Australian actress Nicole Kidman won the 70th anniversary award.

Aside from Netflix Inc.'s "Okja" by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho, other Asian titles in the official selection included Naomi Kawase's "Radiance" and Hong Sangsoo's "The Day After."

Japanese sci-fi thriller "Before We Vanish" and Chinese drama "Walking Past the Future" competed in this year's Un Certain Regard section.

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The cast of "Okja" at the screening of the film at the Cannes Film Festival
Credit: Associated Press

Takashi Miike's "Blade of the Immortal" was screened Out of Competition, while Midnight Screenings featured South Korean thrillers "The Villainess" and "The Merciless." On the other hand, Hong Sang-soo's "Clair's Camera" was part of the festival's Special Screenings.

"Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts" was the only Southeast Asian feature film screened during the festival's Directors Fortnight. The thriller was directed by Indonesian filmmaker Mouly Surya.

The 2017 Cannes Film Festival also saw a record participation from Asia and saw a flurry of global deals across different types of programming and platforms. Aside from being instrumental in this year's record attendance of 12,234, the Asian markets, specifically China, drove the lion's share of new business at Cannes' Marché du Film.

First off, China's Bona Film Group Ltd. and U.S.-based Creative Artists Agency launched a long-term film fund that will be used to finance English-language films and Chinese co-productions. Roland Emmerich's "Midway" will be the first project to be financed through the fund.

This was followed by HBO Asia's deal with China Central Television (CCTV)(CN)'s China Movie Channel to make two Chinese-language martial arts movies for TV.

Meanwhile, Sony Pictures Classics acquired Asia, Australia and New Zealand rights to cowboy drama "The Rider." The Sony Corp. unit will also release the movie in North America, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

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Director Qiu Yang won short film Palme d'Or award for "A Gentle Night"
Credit: Associated Press

After its midnight screening, South Korean crime thriller "The Merciless" received an eight-minute standing ovation. The film had pre-sold to 85 territories before its international premiere in Cannes and has racked up additional deals, which will see the film distributed to a total of 117 territories.

North American and U.K. theatrical rights to EDKO Film Ltd.'s "Monster Hunt 2," a sequel to the 2015 Chinese blockbuster, was picked up by Lionsgate Entertainment. The deal also gives Lionsgate rights to the "Monster Hunt" property for its location-based entertainment venues in select territories.

Jackie Chan's new international sales outfit, Sparkle Roll Media, clinched distribution deals for "A Better Tomorrow 4," selling the film to Kidarient Corp. for South Korea and Clover Films for Singapore.

Meanwhile, Beijing-based distributor Red Apollo Group acquired rights for Chinese theatrical release for French action comedy "Raid: Special Unit" in August, while also eyeing a quota slot for French fiction "Family Heist" before the end of 2017.

China's Hishow Entertainment obtained Chinese rights for French production company Gaumont S.A.'s "Christmas & Co." and "Gaston."

Additionally, Chinese online ticketing platform Beijing Weying Technology bagged the distribution rights in China to nine Wild Bunch films, which include "Loveless," "Redoubtable," "Rodin" and "You Were Never Really Here."

Also, YL Pictures scored the distribution rights in China for Wizart's animated film "Fantastic Journey To Oz," which is set to premiere in Chinese cinemas on more than 7,000 screens.

Shanghai-based Bliss Media Pty Ltd. bought the Chinese rights to distribute and market "Why We're Killing Gunther," an action comedy starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

U.K.-based streaming platform FilmDoo secured global video-on-demand rights to the back catalog of Philippines-based filmmaker Raya Martin, which include "How To Disappear Completely," "Next Attraction," "Now Showing" and documentary "The Island At The End Of The World."