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Big-ticket pix link Brit rivals

Pair plans to jointly buy 2 films a year for next 2 years

LONDON — Rival British distribs FilmFour and Pathe have entered an unprecedented alliance to acquire big-budget movies, starting with Iain Softley’s psychological drama “K-Pax” from Intermedia.

FilmFour and Pathe plan to buy two films a year jointly for the next two years, splitting costs and profits equally and taking turns handling theatrical distribution.

With “K-Pax,” FilmFour will distribute the pic theatrically, while Pathe will handle the video/DVD release. The destination of the TV rights has yet to be decided.

The pic stars Kevin Spacey as a mysterious hospital patient who claims to be from a distant planet called K-Pax who exerts a remarkable influence on other patients. Jeff Bridges plays the psychiatrist tasked with cracking the stranger’s enigma. Alfre Woodard also stars in the pic, produced by Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin.The partnership allows both companies to bid for the bigger studio movies while spreading their risk. “K-Pax” is the most expensive pic ever bought by FilmFour.

“This deal offers us the opportunity to share expertise, risk and reward with a trust and respected partner,” said Francois Ivernel, managing director of Pathe.

“Joining forces on acquisitions and U.K. distribution on a project-by-project basis allows both sides to benefit from each other’s expertise and increased clout in the marketplace,” said FilmFour deputy chief exec Peter Buckingham.

When two buyers decide to cooperate instead of compete, it’s rarely good news for sellers. But in this case, the alliance will be seen as a positive development by companies such as Intermedia because it effectively creates a new buyer for studio-level pics in a territory where there’s a severe shortage of distribs capable of stepping up for the biggest-budgeted projects.

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