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Brit producer options Ballard’s ‘Cannes’

Unusual for us to buy new book, Thomas sez

TORONTO — Brit executive producer Jeremy Thomas (“The Last Emperor”) has optioned J.G. Ballard’s latest book, “Super Cannes.”

“It’s unusual for us to buy a new book,” said Thomas, but he has a relationship with Ballard, who wrote “Crash,” which Thomas made into a film directed by David Cronenberg.

The new novel is set in the outskirts of Cannes, which Thomas described as “an area not unlike Silicon Valley, in which the greatest executives in the world live and play.”

Thomas is with several films at the Toronto Intl. Film Festival, including Jonathan Glazer’s “Sexy Beast”; “Brother,” a U.K./Japanese co-production directed by Takeshi Kitano; and the Nagisa Oshima Japan/France/U.K. co-production “Taboo.” He also has several other irons in the fire.

Thomas is exec producer of the Australian film “Rabbit Proof Fence,” directed by Phillip Noyce. Set in 1931, pic is the true story of three aboriginal girls who escape after being plucked from their homes to be trained as domestic staff and set off on a trek across the Outback. Pic stars Kenneth Branagh and David Gulpilil (“Walkabout”); lensing on the $3.6 million-budgeted pic is skedded to begin Sept. 18.

Thomas is also involved with “The Triumph of Love,” a U.K./Italian co-production that began shooting Sept. 4 in Tuscany. Directed by Clare Peploe, produced by Bernardo Bertolucci and written by Peploe, Bertolucci and Marilyn Goldin, “Triumph” is based on the play by Pierre Marivaux. Cast includes Ben Kingsley, Fiona Shaw and Mira Sorvino. Budget is about $5 million.

In pre-production and set to begin shooting next year are “Heaven and Hell,” Thomas’ fifth collaboration with director Bertolucci, and “The White Sea,” in which Thomas and the Coen brothers will to go Japan. Thomas said the projects were too nascent to discuss details.

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