Belleville Picked Up By Sony Pictures Classics

Following a successful showing at Cannes, the animated feature Les Triplettes De Belleville (U.S. title Belleville Rendezvous) from French writer/director Sylvian Chomet has been acquired by Sony Pictures Classics for distribution in the U.S. and Australia.

Chomet told Animation Magazine, ‘We’re very happy to have the film distributed in the States. In fact, USA and Germany were the only two large territories not to have bought the film before Cannes. The worldwide distributor Celluloid Dreams literally had to drag them to the premiere. However, the warm reaction of the audience and the amazing standing ovation at the end of the screening did the job! Now the film is sold in 33 countries.’

Other major U.S. studios expressed interest in the artistic film but the challenge of marketing the dialogue-free, hand drawn feature sans an American-style hero was considered a stumbling block. While Sony Pictures is diving headlong into the computer animation business, Sony Pictures Classics is known more for live-action indies like Todd Solondz’s Welcome to the Doll House, John Sayles’ Lone Star and Neil LaBute’s In The Company of Men, as well as foreign films such as Indochine, Babette’s Feast and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Sony Pictures Classics co-presidents Michael Barker, Tom Bernard, and Marcie Bloom, along with Sr. VP Dylan Leiner, closed the deal for the studio. Celluloid Dreams pres Hengameh Panahi negotiated for the distrib house.

Belleville is the story of Champion, a young Tour de France competitor who is kidnapped and taken to the far-off city of Belleville by the French mob. Champion’s brave little aunt, Madame Souza, along with his overweight and gangly dog Bruno, travel across the sea to rescue him. There they enlist the assistance of a washed-up singing trio, The Triplettes of Belleville, and in a wonderfully ridiculous and exuberant chase, save the day.

For more detailed information on the making of Belleville Rendezvous, see the cover story of our March 2003 edition.