RKO, Altman pact on new ‘Mata Hari’

A revitalized RKO Pictures said Friday that it has signed an agreement with director Robert Altman and Sandcastle 5 Prods. to co-develop the film “Mata Hari.”

It will be written by Australian playwright and “The Year of Living Dangerously” screenwriter David Williamson.

The development deal tentatively calls for Altman to direct “Mata Hari.” The pic is penciled to start after Altman finishes Miramax Films’ “Pret A Porter” and the screen adaptation of “Angels in America.”

“Mata Hari” is based on the life of the Danish entertainer, who spied on the French for the Germans during World War I. Her life story has been told on film several times, including a 1932 MGM version that starred Greta Garbo, a 1962 French/Italian co-production, and an ’85 production with Sylvia Kristel.

Williamson’s pic credits also include “Gallipoli.”

Williamson and Altman are represented by William Morris Agency, which did the RKO deal.

RKO Pictures, headed by majority owners Ted Hartley and Dina Merrill, has recently embarked on a revitalization strategy designed to put it back into A-list productions. It is also attempting to remake some of its 750-title movie library.

RKO executive veepee Mitchell Blumberg said the company has “approximately 20 films in active development — half from our library and half that have come to us (from outside sources). We look forward to producing four to six features per year beginning in 1994.”

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