Prod/distrib venture eye 5-8 pic-per-year pace

Overseas Filmgroup and the Ministry of Film have teamed in Filmtown, a production and distribution venture with a eye toward making five to eight films a year in the $10-15 million range.

Ministry, which is headed by co-chairmen Alan Mruvka and Marilyn Vance, will produce the films; Overseas, headed by co-chairman Robbie and Ellen Little, will handle worldwide distribution. The partners will own the moniker jointly.

Filmtown, which is likely to be based at the Overseas offices in Los Angeles, will finance its pics via international pre-sales and a North American output deal.

Overseas’ own domestic distribution outfit, First Look Pictures, is not expected to be involved in the venture.

The first pic to go into production will be “Mr. D,” written and directed by Jonathan Kahn (“Girl”). The comedic drama focuses on two rivals vying for the Teacher of the Year award at a middle school.

Next up will be thriller “Penny Dreadful,” written and directed by Frank DeFelitta. Pic is about a young tycoon and his mistress who go on a weekend cruise with unexpected results.

According to Robbie Little, the venture will focus on “high-profile” projects. Overseas and First Look releases have tended toward the specialized and genre markets in the past. The company’s “Illuminata,” directed by John Turturro and starring Turturro and Susan Sarandon, is screening in competition at Cannes.

Ministry of Film’s producing credits include Timothy Hutton’s “Digging to China,” starring Kevin Bacon and Mary Stuart Masterson.

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