UA falls in love with Figgis’ ‘Miss Julie’

Pact reunites studio, helmer

Marking its second preemptive buy in two weeks, United Artists Films has acquired U.S. and most international rights to Mike Figgis’ “Miss Julie,” which premieres at next month’s Toronto Intl. Film Festival.

Pic, which stars Saffron Burrows and Peter Mullan, takes a contemporary approach to August Strindberg’s 1888 play about sexual repression and class schisms.

Scripted by Helen Cooper, film tells the story of an aristocratic young woman who is seduced by her father’s ambitious valet. After the sexual thrill has gone, the couple find that they have nothing in common, and the woman must struggle with the consequences of her actions.

Ernst “Etchie” Stroh’s Moonstone Entertainment fully financed the approximately $7 million period piece, which lensed earlier this year on a soundstage in North London.

Figgis and Harriet Cruickshank produced “Julie,” and Stroh and Annie Stewart (who runs Figgis’ Red Mullet production banner) exec produced.

Buying spree

Earlier this month UA took all North American rights to the romantic comedy “Things You Can Tell By Just Looking at Her.” UA’s acquisition of “Julie” marks the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer specialized division’s reunion with Figgis, who directed “Leaving Las Vegas” for UA in 1995. That pic scored four Oscar nods for the studio, and a best actor win for Nicolas Cage.

MGM president of worldwide distribution Larry Gleason and MGM president of worldwide marketing Gerry Rich have acquired “Julie” for UA in North America, U.K., Australia, Latin America (excluding Brazil), the Far East and Eastern Europe (excluding Poland).

“We are thrilled to have Mike back in the MGM family,” Rich said. “His films are at once perceptive and uncompromising and embody the independent spirit.”

Around the world

After premiering in Toronto, “Julie” will go to the San Sebastian Festival and likely be released domestically by the end of the year. Moonstone is handling sales in the rest of the world, where the pic is virtually sold out.

Figgis last directed “The Loss of Sexual Innocence,” also starring Burrows, which Sony Pictures Classics released in the U.S. His other credits include “Internal Affairs,” “One Night Stand,” “Mr. Jones” and “The Browning Version.”

Burrows last starred as an arrogant research scientist in Renny Harlin’s “Deep Blue Sea” for Warner Bros. Mullan won the best actor award at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival for his performance in Ken Loach’s “My Name Is Joe.”

International Creative Management and attorney George Haim repped Figgis. ICM and Stroh concluded the pic’s distribution deal with MGM’s Gleason and Rich.

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