TF1 Studio Sells Most of the World on Freddie Highmore Starrer ‘Way Down’ (EXCLUSIVE)

John Hopewell

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BERLIN — Handled by TF1 Studio, Freddie Highmore heist thriller “Way Down” has pre-sold most of the world’s key distribution territories.

At Berlin, TF1 Studio licensed Latin America with Joao Worcman’s Rio de Janeiro-based Synapse Distribution, which will release the theatrical feature, directed by Jaume Balgueró (“[REC]”) in collaboration with Ledafilms.

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Central Europe (Prorom Media Trade), Israel (Current Flow), Thailand (Sahamongkol Film), and Benelux (Dutch Film Works) also closed at Berlin.

Unannounced sales on the Spain-set but English-language title take in South Korea (Noori Pictures) and CIS (Top Film Distribution/Megogo).

TF1 Studio has also pre-sold Greece (Spentzos), Portugal (Nos Lusomundo), airlines (Cinesky), China, Hong Kong and Taiwan (A Really Happy Film), Philippines (Pioneer Films), Indonesia (Prima Cinema) and the Middle East (Italia Films).

Japan, Italy and Poland are in discussion. The U.S. distribution strategy is being discussed and will be finalized before the Cannes Festival, said Sabine Chemaly, who heads up TF1 Studio as EVP International Sales.

First distribution arrangements, with Sony Entertainment for Spain and Germany’s SquareOne Entertainment, were revealed at Cannes last year. TF1 Studio will handle the movie’s French domestic distribution. Pathé Films has acquired rights for Switzerland.

Originally announced at last year’s Berlinale, “Way Down” represents a pioneering co-production between two of Europe’s biggest commercial-sector media corporations, France’s TF1 Group and Spain’s Mediaset España, aimed at making a high-end international thriller that can compete in scale and production value with most all independent movies being brought onto the market from the U.S.

Key to that concept of course is the presence of Highmore himself, star of ABC’s “The Good Doctor,” the biggest U.S. scripted series export of 2018.

Co-starring Liam Cunningham, Sir Davos Seaworth in “Game of Thrones,” and Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Syrena in “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” “Way Down” kicks off in the U.K. as Highmore’s character, Thom, just out of university and bored by his job prospects, receives a proposal from art dealer Walter (Cunningham) to steal a legendary lost treasure from the Bank of Spain, while its staff is distracted by the 2010 soccer World Cup final, featuring Spain’s national team.

The Bank of Spain has no blueprints, however; and its security system boasts an underground river that floods the safe room if anyone succeeds in breaching it…..

Berlinale sales followed a presentation at last week’s Berlin European Film Market by TF1’s Chemaly and Ghislain Barrois, CEO of Telecinco Cinema, Mediaset España’s film arm, whose credits include “The Impossible” and “A Monster Calls” from “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” director J.A. Bayona, and Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

At the EFM sneak peak, targeting distributors who had bought the title and potential new buyers, Chemaly and Barrois unveiled the movie’s opening scene and, to show more of the story, excerpts from scenes where Highmore’s character joins the heist team.

One aim, said Chemaly, was to show clients that Highmore, though an engineering genius in “Way Down,” plays a very different character to his autist savant in “The Good Doctor.”

Barrois set out the release strategy for Spain, where the film opens Nov. 27, promotional materials, and the potential for cross promotion of the movie during June’s UEFA Euro 2020 soccer tournament.

The pre-sales keep “Way Down” on track to join the relatively select company of theatrical features from France or Spain that sell out the world.

“The film is a clever, ticking-clock heist movie, the director is fantastic, and the production values are quite amazing,” said Chemaly.

El Ranchito, whose credits include “Jack Ryan” and “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” supplies FX work on “Way Down.”

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