Castle Rock Entertainment has given the greenlight to screenwriter-director Whit Stillman’s “Barcelona,” which marks his return to the director’s chair after the 1991 “Metropolitan,” which was nominated for an original-screenplay Oscar.

Set to start a 45- to 50-day shoot in March, “Barcelona” will star Taylor Nichols and Christopher Eigeman, who both starred in “Metropolitan.”

“Barcelona” follows two American cousins who get involved with four Spanish girls at the annual Fira trade fair. The director said the project is “a romantic comedy set in the 1980s,” when Spain’s cosmopolitan hub “was filled with Cold War tensions.”

“It is a real coup for Castle Rock to have a filmmaker like Whit doing his next film for us,” said Castle Rock partner in charge of motion picture activities Martin Shafer.

“Barcelona” will be distributed by Fine Line Features — the first of 16 Castle Rock movies to be distributed outside of the company’s overall deal with Columbia Pictures.

Budgeted under $ 10 million, “Barcelona” went to Fine Line because it fell under the financial threshold of the Colpix deal, according to Shafer.

Castle Rock will put up the entire production and print & advertising budget in exchange for worldwide rights. Fine Line will supply marketing and distribution expertise, with Castle Rock offering creative input and production services.

Stillman said the decision to go with Fine Line was made because of the presence of company president Ira Deutchman, who was marketing consultant on “Metropolitan.”

Produced for $ 245,000, “Metropolitan” was distributed by New Line Cinema in 1990 and emerged as a cult hit. It grossed roughly $ 3 million domestically.

Deutchman said “Barcelona” will likely be delivered toward the end of 1993 and that Fine Line has tentative plans to release the pic in spring 1994.

Shafer said a sales agent will be retained shortly to sell the pic off internationally on a territory-by-territory basis; Stillman said he hopes international distributors who carved out results with “Metropolitan” will get a shot at “Barcelona.”

Stillman is attempting to assemble as many of the “Metropolitan” production people as possible on the “Barcelona” shoot, including director of photography John Thomas and editor Christopher Tellefsen.

“Barcelona” becomes the latest addition to Castle Rock’s aggressive production schedule, which also includes the spring 1993 pix “Amos & Andrew” and “Josh and S.A.M,” the summer release “In the Line of Fire,” an untitled thriller from director Harold Becker and “Needful Things.”

For Fine Line, “Barcelona” falls behind the company’s late 1993 releases of Robert Altman’s “Shortcuts” and Maggie Greenwald’s “The Ballad of Little Jo.”

Deutchman said a couple of pending acquisitions likely will be sandwiched between the tail-end 1993 releases and “Barcelona.”

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