Bigelow-helmed sub drama begins prod'n in Feb.

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PARK CITY, Utah — New Regency Films is in final negotiations to acquire domestic rights to the big-budget Intermedia/IMF production “K-19: The Widowmaker,” starring Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson.

The film would be released through New Regency’s exclusive distribution arrangement with 20th Century Fox and would include Latin America, Russia and Israel.

Pic has now been sold throughout the world. Paramount Pictures, which was among the suitors for domestic rights, has acquired foreign distribution rights to the film for the U.K., France, Australia and New Zealand, which will be distribbed via Paramount’s overseas distribution partnership with UIP. RAI will handle the pic in Italy.

Helmed by Kathryn Bigelow (“Strange Days”) “K-19″ is a drama based on the true story of a Soviet submarine crew‘s attempt to keep the payload on their vessel from a nuclear meltdown. Scripted by Christopher Kyle and Louis Novra, the film will begin production in February.

Pay hike for Ford

Budgeted in the neighborhood of $80 million, “K-19″ marks a hefty payday for Ford with the star earning $25 million against 20% of the box office for his role as Captain Zateyev (Daily Variety, Oct. 31).

Pic is being produced by National Geographic Films, Bigelow’s First Light Prods. and Joni Sighvatsson’s Palomar Pictures. National Geographic spent four years developing the title.

Deal is somewhat unusual for Arnon Milchan’s Fox-based New Regency, a company that has traditionally focused on developing and producing original material for Fox but has not been active in split-rights or acquisitions. Although New Regency made a co-production pact in 1999 with France’s TF1 and the U.K.’s FilmFour, the partnership dissolved less than a year later without producing any title.

New Regency signed an exclusive 15-year pact with Fox in 1997. It is in production on the thriller “Don’t Say a Word” starring Michael Douglas and Brittany Murphy. Pic is directed by Gary Fleder (“Kiss the Girls”) and based on the novel by Andrew Klavan and adapted by Klavan and Anthony Peckham. Fully financed by New Regency, the Fox pic started shooting in December and is produced by New Regency with Arnold Kopelson’s Kopelson Entertainment.

New Regency also developed and produced “Simply Irresistible” and co-financed such Fox films as 20th Century Fox’s “Entrapment,” Fox Searchlight’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Fox 2000’s “Pushing Tin” and “Fight Club.”

The Intermedia-produced Sundance Film Festival buzz title “Enigma” starring Kate Winslet and Dougray Scott for director Michael Apted premiered in Park City on Monday evening.

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