M’max horror pact

Helmer Kitamura inks with studio

Miramax Films has signed Japanese horror director Ryuhei Kitamura to a first-look deal. Kitamura fright pics like “Versus” and “Heat After Dark” have drawn keen interest on the festival circuit.

Under the deal, which partners Kitamura with Miramax and its genre label, Dimension, helmer will receive and consider projects from the two divisions; he also has the option to bring original material or remake concepts to them.

His debut feature, “Versus,” is a high-spirited splatter pic, replete with zombies and traditional Japanese storytelling elements like martial arts, samurai and shamans.

“I have always wanted to fill the screen with my own samurai spirits and contribute to the immortality of film,” said Kitamura. “I am so happy and excited that I have been given the opportunity to expand my directorial pursuits to the USA with the best partners, Miramax and Dimension Films.”

Kudos earned

The 33 year-old director has been named best young director at the Japan Independent Film Festival and took the director nod at Rome’s Fanta festival. He received the Sonny Chiba Prize and Fantaland prize at the Yubari Intl. Film Festival for his work on “Versus.”

“When we saw Ryuhei’s work, it was obvious to us that he was someone we wanted to be in business with,” said Miramax co-chair Harvey Weinstein.

Senior VP of acquisitions Agnes Mentre added, “He has a great visual style with a terrific sense for action and humor, which makes him unique.”

Kitamura was introduced to Miramax by director of acquisitions Sean McPhillips. Senior VP of acquisitions and international operations Stuart Ford negotiated on behalf of Miramax. Nick Kambayashi of Pacific Media negotiated on behalf of Kitamura.

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