M'max topper angling for rights to Campion/Kidman thriller

VENICE — Never count out the big guy. With salt from his in-flight peanuts still fresh on his breath, Miramax topper Harvey Weinstein cruised into Venice on Monday and immediately supplanted all parties looking to gain worldwide distribution rights to “In the Cut,” an upcoming thriller to star Nicole Kidman for director Jane Campion (Daily Variety, Sept. 7).

While Universal Pictures Intl. was understood to be putting together European backers for the $20 million-plus pic last week, Weinstein seems to be the front-runner now, with several sources suggesting that a deal is near. Kidman controls rights to the film, which Campion is rewriting from Susanna Moore’s adaptation of her 1995 novel.

The jockeying for “Cut” overshadows a rather quiet deal-making atmosphere at this year’s Venice Film Festival. Once word started leaking out that Kidman and Campion were meeting with distributors on Venice’s Lido, the project became a hot commodity. CAA, which is repping the film on Kidman’s behalf, is understood to have asked as much as $27 million for worldwide rights.

Kidman will make her bigscreen producing debut on “In the Cut.” Campion also will produce. The pic is being targeted for a fall 2000 start date, after Kidman wraps two other films: Baz Luhrmann’s “Moulin Rouge” for Fox, which she’ll finish before embarking on Alejandro Amenabar’s “The Other” for Miramax. Kidman recently wrapped production on “The Birthday Girl,” which is being distributed by Miramax, too.

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