Can West co. plans prod'n for New Year

Can West Entertainment and Seven Arts Pictures will enter Y2K with a varied slate that includes helmers Walter Hill, Roger Donaldson, Joseph Ruben, Geoffrey Wright and Bob Gale.

Among the stars in talks to topline are Joseph Fiennes, Michael Keaton and Kurt Russell.

‘Ambitious production’

“Our new ambitious production and development program is the product of more than three years of activity and the important support of Can West and Jay Firestone,” said Seven Arts topper Peter Hoffman. “We hope to have as many as five pictures in production next year and have over 20 projects in development.”

Seven Arts recently reupped its first-look arrangement with Paramount with respect to the domestic territory, the most recent of which is the $70 million thriller “Rules of Engagement,” which stars Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones for a summer 2000 release.

In addition, Seven Arts has producer arrangements with Dan Grodnik’s Itasca Pictures, Colleen Camp, Neil Canton and Susan Hoffman.

Founded in 1996 by Peter and Susan Hoffman, Seven Arts is co-owned by leading Canuck TV production outfit Can West Entertainment — a subsidiary of broadcaster Can West Global Entertainment, which also owns Seven Arts partner Fireworks Entertainment Inc.

The in-the-works pictures will be funded by a combination of bank financing, insurance-backed financing, and equity or distribution advances from Can West.

New projects

  • “Confidence,” to be helmed by Kevin Reynolds, is about suave, sophisticated bank robber Morton Orwell, who carries out a plan to relieve the federal government of $84 million while eluding his nemesis and getting revenge. Simon Davis Barry wrote the script. Dan Grodnik produces.

  • “The Donner Party” is the story of the infamous American frontier journey that ended in cannibalism. Written by Henry Bean and Mark Jacobson, Joseph Ruben helms and Susan Hoffman produces. Joseph Fiennes and Ashley Judd have been approached to star.

  • “Interstate 60″ is a coming-of-age fantasy written and to be helmed by Bob Gale. It is about a young man who meets a modern-day genie with a wicked sense of humor. Redeemable Features’ Ira Deutchman and Peter Newman and Neil Canton are attached to produce. James Marsden and Kurt Russell are in discussions to star.

  • “Cletis Tout” is a crime thriller about an escaped convict who is mistaken for a hit man’s mark and tries to convince the killer of his true identity. Chris Ver Weil wrote the script and will helm; Dan Grodnik and Matt Grimaldi produce. Christian Slater and Michael Keaton are in discussions to star.

  • “Nothing More Than Murder” is an adaptation of the Jim Thompson novel about a hapless Louisiana movie theater owner’s criminal and sexual misadventures. Jason Patric is in talks to topline. John Simon is writer-director.

  • “The Descent” is a sci-fi adventure by Patrick Read Johnson and John Lau about a life form five miles below the earth that preys on a team of cave divers. Johnson will direct; Eric Sandys produces.

  • “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” is a remake of the 1950s horror classic in which a young man is forced to become a werewolf to protect his family. Anthony Hickox will direct a John Montgomery script. Brad Renfro is in talks to star. Sam Arkoff and Sam Perlmutter will produce with Colleen Camp exex producing.

Already-wrapped projects

  • “American Rhapsody,” to be produced by Camp and Bonnie Timmermann, directed by Eva Gardos and starring Nastassja Kinski, Scarlett Johansson and Tony Goldwyn, has been acquired domestically and in several overseas territories by Paramount. Story is the true-life story of writer-helmer Gardos’ escape from Communist Hungary to the U.S.

  • “Duets” stars Gwyneth Paltrow and is directed by her father Bruce Paltrow. Fully financed and distribbed by Buena Vista International, Touchstone Pictures will roll out the previously announced pic in spring 2000. Seven Arts acted as production company on the pic.

Projects in development

  • “Neuromancer” is an adaptation of William Gibson’s cyber-novel. Chris Cunningham is attached to direct.

  • “O Jerusalem” is a story of Israel’s war of independence in 1948, which Andre Djaoui will produce.

  • “Stander,” to be helmed by Roger Donaldson, is the story of an apartheid-era South African policeman who grows a conscience. Script was written by Ken Friedman and Bima Stagg.

  • “Persona Non Grata” is the story of a big-game hunter tracking down an assassin on a transatlantic freighter. Walter Hill directs and Grodnik produces. Ken Friedman is rewriting Rich Leder.

  • “Dixieland” is the story of an honest New Orleans cop in a corrupt department. Producer Susan Hoffman adapted from the Paul Adam novel.

  • “Pigs in Zen,” to be written and directed by Shane Davis, is the story of two assistants who rip off a drug cartel to finance their film. Til Schweiger and Matthew Lillard are in talks to star. Julia Verdin is producing.

  • “The Divided Heart” is the story of a Vietnam vet who goes to Paris to deliver a message to a woman he never met. Geoffrey Wright is attached to direct and is rewriting the script by Stuart Lindh. Gilbert Mercier and Lina Shanklin produce with Gloria Feldman and Valerie Holt.

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