Gaumont set to finance Goldman gangster thriller

'Vatel' producer sets out to make 'the French 'Goodfellas' '

PARIS — French major Gaumont will finance the 50 million franc ($7 million) thriller “La Mentale” (The Code), which marks the end of the group’s formal relationship with “Crimson Rivers” producer Alain Goldman.

Set in the Paris underworld, pic stars Samuel Le Bihan (“Brotherhood of the Wolf”) as a hoodlum trying to go straight, and Sami Naceri (“Taxi”) as the criminal friend who leads him back to a life of crime.

Helmer Manuel Boursinhac (“Un pur moment de rock ‘n’ roll”) starts shooting in Paris Dec. 8.

“La Mentale” will be Alain Goldman’s last pic with Gaumont under the terms of a first look deal that ended earlier this year when StudioCanal took a 49% stake in Goldman’s Legende Entreprises.

His previous pics with Gaumont range from the money-losing Roland Joffe-helmed Gerard Depardieu starrer “Vatel,” which helped plunge the French major into the red last year, to Mathieu Kassovitz’s “Crimson Rivers,” France’s most successful export this year. Although it did not grab U.S. audiences, the $14 million pic has been a huge international hit by French standards, grossing $56 million worldwide.

Pointing out that he co-produced Martin Scorsese’s “Casino,” Goldman told Daily Variety that the new movie’s ambition “is to be a French ‘Goodfellas.’ ”

“It will be an action-packed thriller noir set in an underworld that hasn’t been featured in French movies since the ’50s and ’60s.”

Pic, whose title refers to the code that governs behavior among Paris’ criminal classes, was penned by co-star Naceri’s brother Bibi Naceri and Boursinhac.

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