Wild Hunt lands U.S. theatrical deal

Opening in New York leads to DVD-savvy stops in Minnesota, Texas and Arkansas

Alexandre Franchi’s The Wild Hunt, winner of the best first Canadian feature at TIFF 2009, has been picked up for U.S. theatrical distribution through Hannover House. A recently invigorated player in the U.S. market, Hannover made a splash at Sundance this year when it acquired the Joel Schumacher thriller Twelve. Hannover is a subsidiary of Target Development Group, an Arkansas-based real estate development and holding company.

The Wild Hunt deal was brokered by Marie-Claude Poulin of Montreal-based Item 7, which acted as a producer’s rep on the title. Poulin tells Playback Daily she commenced negotiations with Hannover CEO Eric Parkinson following the film’s U.S. premiere at Slamdance, where it won the audience prize. At TIFF, Poulin brokered the deal that saw L.A.-based Arclight pick up international sales rights on the picture.

The Wild Hunt has made waves with its mash-up of modern and medieval plot lines, as a young man pursues his girlfriend into a role-playing game gone wild. Produced by Franchi and Karen Murphy and written by Franchi and Mark A. Krupa, the film was executive produced by Krupa, Richard Speer, Josée Vallée and Poulin’s Item 7 partner Pierre Even.

The film is set for a May release in New York and three cities in slightly less orthodox opening markets: Minnesota, Texas and Arkansas. Hannover CEO Parkinson says the three states are home to his company’s largest retail buyers of DVDs: Target and Best Buy, both based in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Dallas-based Blockbuster, and Walmart of Bentonville, Arkansas.

Parkinson says Hannover is following the lead of Canadian distributor TVA (which launched the film last weekend) toward an Aug. 31 DVD release. He says it’s important to release the film theatrically in the local markets of his principal buyers so as to respect the DVD window in the U.S. and forestall any poaching from Canadian retailers. He adds the film’s theatrical release will platform to other markets should initial results so warrant.