Distrib, producer tensions breaks 'Code'

A bitter row has resulted in Pathe Pictures pulling out of Michael Winterbottom’s “Code 46″ just three weeks before the pic was due to start shooting.

Pathe’s withdrawal from the pic, which is being co-financed by United Artists, was triggered by the collapse of the relationship between Revolution Films producer Andrew Eaton and Pathe toppers Francois Ivernel and Cameron McCracken.

“I do not want to go into details, but there was a difference of spirit, in the way we do business with each other,” Ivernel says. “We still think it is a brilliant project, and I’m sure it will get set up elsewhere, but for us it was an issue of principle.”

Pathe’s decision not to go ahead with “Code 46″ stunned UA, which was ready to close its deal to take North American rights. Pre-production has been suspended while Eaton scrambles to find other financing to replace Pathe, which was due to take foreign rights.

Routine tensions over casting and deal issues had been brewing for some time. These escalated a couple of weeks ago when Eaton and Ivernel clashed over Pathe’s decision to include the project in trade ads, even though it had not yet inked its deal or made any contribution toward the pre-production costs.

Ivernel argues that including “Code 46″ in the ad was a sign of Pathe’s “goodwill.” Eaton says this goodwill would have been better expressed in the form of cash for pre-production, on which Revolution is $150,000 out of pocket.

“Code 46,” set to star Samantha Morton, is a sci-fi thriller set in America, about a man who falls in love with a mysterious woman. She turns out to have been cloned from his mother’s DNA. Tim Robbins was in talks to play the male lead when Pathe pulled out.

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