Artisan guards ‘Gate’

Prod'n company, IFG take direct control of Polanski pic

Moving swiftly to prevent overruns on its first major production, the Johnny Depp-starrer “The Ninth Gate,” Artisan Entertainment, together with completion bond provider Intl. Film Guarantors, has taken direct control of the $30 million picture.

“Gate” is celebrated director Roman Polanski’s first feature film in over four years. Artisan, which is financing and distributing — but not producing — the pic, has sent its own line producer, Wolfgang Glattes, to the European set.

Sources close to the production, which is lensing in France, Spain and Portugal, said that the two U.S. companies intervened after shooting got behind — largely due to factors beyond the control of either Polanski or the producers.

Supernatural thriller

The supernatural thriller, which co-stars Lena Olin, Frank Langella and Emmanuelle Seigner, is being produced by Polanski, Inaki Nunez (Spain) and Alain Vannier (France).

“We brought IFG in but as a collaboration,” said a senior source at Artisan. “It’s a tactical thing.”

“Gate” is based on the book “The Club Dumas” by Spanish novelist Arturo Perez-Reverte. Polanski, John Brownjohn and Enrique Urbizu wrote the screenplay. Pic is the story of a rare books expert (Depp) on the trail of two demonic texts, who finds himself caught up in a supernatural conspiracy.

Perfectionism

People involved in the production said a couple of unforeseen events (such as cast illness) delayed shooting by up to two weeks. The perfectionism of the director and his director of photography Darius Khondji also was a factor, they said.

Artisan, however, maintained that the pic was only “four to five” days behind. “We’re monitoring things a little more closely,” the source said.

At the moment, cast and crew are shooting in the medieval Spanish city of Toledo. In 10 days, they move to the mountain town of Sintra, Portugal.

Bac Films has French rights to the pic, and Araba Films, Spanish rights. Both distribs said their contributions were stipulated cash investments and not a percentage of the pic’s budget. Both get rights in their territories, in return for their contributions.

Artisan said that the company is fully behind Polanski and his vision for the film. “Not a single scene will be cut as a result of this,” the source said.

“Gate” is Polanski’s most ambitious film since the 1988 thriller “Frantic,” which starred Harrison Ford. The Polish-born filmmaker’s last pic was the 1994 drama “Death and the Maiden,” starring Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley.

IFG did not comment.

(Michael Williams in Paris and John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report.)

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