Fabiano Gullane, Walter Salles’ ‘Noah’s Ark’ Ramps Up Pre-Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

Produced by Fabiano Gullane, Walter Salles and Globo Filmes, and unfolding to the strains of Bossa Nova, “Noah’s Ark” has closed brisk pre-sales for Edward Noeltner’s Cinema Management Group (CMG) off a Berlin Festival launch.

Those deals reflect the status of “Noah’s Ark” – directed by Sérgio Machado (“Lower City”) and with songs and lyrics by Bossa Nova legend Vinicius de Moraes – as both one of the biggest-budgeted of current Brazilian movies and a flagship of its vibrant animation sector, which will receive a tribute at June’s Annecy Festival.

Made in what is now the long run-up to Cannes, deals also underscore CMG’s making full use of Bordeaux’s Cartoon Movie and Hong Kong’s FilmArt to not only pre-sell “Noah’s Ark” in small-to-midsize territories – a traditional strategy – but position “Noah’s Ark” for the Cannes Festival. That tactic is likely to be copied by more sales companies as the biggest market in the world requires an ever-longer, multiple-month strategic build.

Early March’s Cartoon Movie, Europe’s key animated movie pitching event, saw CMG closing deals in Russia/CIS with Voxell and for Switzerland with Praesens Films which is handling several of CMG’s animated titles including the recent Academy Award-nominated “Loving Vincent.”

At FilMart, CMG inked with Blue Lantern for Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar; the Philippines went to Crystal Sky, distribution rights in Turkey to TME. Off Berlin, CMG closed South Korea (First Run Inc.), China (Flame Node), Middle East (Front Row Filmed Ent.), Portugal (Films 4 You), Czech and Slovak Republics (Bohemia) and Israel (Filmhouse).

“We couldn’t be happier with the response to ‘Noah’s Ark’ from the international market as we prepare initial footage for the film for Cannes,” said Fabiano Gullane.

According to CMG president Noeltner, deals were made off the strength of the screenplay and the universal appeal of the concept: a musical adventure based on the Noah’s Ark story, in which two adventurous minstrel mice embark on “a humorous new telling with the amazing music of Vinicius de Moraes as a backdrop.”

Deals also roll off the track-record of the producers and other partners and talent involved. Gullane produced Luiz Bolognesi’s “Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury,” which won the Annecy Animation Festival’s top Cristal Award in 2013. Arguably the key figure in modern Brazilian cinema, Salles (“Central Station,” “The Motorcycle Diaries”) has contributed artistic direction as well as producing out of Brazil’s VideoFilmes.

The two mice – Tito, a charismatic musician who’s naturally elegant and always accompanied by his guitar; Vini, a charismatic poet suffering terrible stage-fright, who attempts to board the Ark in drag – are scarcely veiled cyphers for Tom Jobim and De Moraes, composer and lyricist on the original “The Girl from Ipanema” and towering figures of Brazil’s Bossa Nova.

“Noah’s Ark” adapts and highlights the evergreen children tale, songs and lyrics of De Moraes. With the two mice reunited on Noah’s Ark, they battle a raging storm, lack of food and the maneuvers of a tyrannical lion to wage war on plant-eaters with their capacity for invention, music and poetry, staging a talent content and performing De Moraes’ classic songs.

De Moraes co-wrote the first Bossa Nova songs and was the playwright of “Orfeu de Conceicao,” which Marcel Camus turned into the hallucinatory Academy Award and Palme d’Or winning movie “Black Orpheus.” Two of Moraes’ compositions were included on the soundtrack of Claude Lelouch’s “A Man and a Woman.”

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