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Financiers may be getting off Scott Free

Scott Free Prods., the feature film production company run by brothers Tony and Ridley Scott, has renegotiated its deals with financiers Largo Entertainment and First Independent. The move is likely to take the two foreign-based companies out of financing features for Scott Free.

It’s not clear how future financing for the feature film company will be structured, or how any new arrangement might affect the company’s relationship with Walt Disney Studios, where the company’s deal is based.

Sources say Scott Free is in talks with Disney about converting its pre-existing split-rights arrangement into an all-rights deal. However, a question remains as to whether the structure will encompass only features directed by the Scotts or will include other movies and TV projects produced by the brothers’ company. The company is currently involved in three or four features and has a series (“The Hunger”) premiering in July on Showtime. Scott Free is run by Chris Zarpas.

The deal with Japan-based Largo and U.K-based First Independent was renegotiated when it became clear that the budget of Tony Scott’s next directing gig, “Enemy of the State,” would exceed the $65 million limit of the current agreement between the three companies.

Sources said that budget is likely to go about $15 million beyond the limit to a little over $80 million. With the changing marketplace, one source noted, the deal structure between Scott Free and its financial partners became somewhat dated as the budgets on event pictures began rising across the board.

An added complication may have been that “Enemy of the State” was a Disney-generated project, and Disney may not have wanted to share distribution rights with third parties because big event pictures are so lucrative for Disney.

“Men in Black’s” Will Smith is starring in the project, to be produced by “Con Air’s” Jerry Bruckheimer from a script by Aaron Sorkin.

Disney footing the bill

Walt Disney is footing the entire bill for the project in exchange for worldwide rights. It will be released domestically through Disney’s Touchstone Pictures label.

Largo and First Independent will be receiving “some benefit” from their home territories, meaning both will receive a cash outlay from Disney. The two companies and Scott Free still have a number of projects in development together.

Ridley Scott is currently pounding out a deal to direct Arnold Schwarzenegger in “I Am Legend” for Warner Bros., which is expected to be the next project for both Scott and Schwarzenegger (Daily Variety, June 5). The project is expected before the cameras by the end of the year.

Scott Free is still financed for pictures under $15 million through a two-picture, non-exclusive arrangement with Guy East’s Intermedia, out of which the recently wrapped “Clay Pigeons” came. That project, which was directed by David Dobkin, stars Janeane Garofalo, Vince Vaughn and Joaquin Phoenix. The second of the two pictures is film noir thriller “Where the Money Is.”

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