Col to handle vigilante pic's distrib'n in o'seas markets

Sony and Marvel may be pounding each other in a series of punishing lawsuits, but the legal wrangling didn’t stop Sony from buying most international rights for “The Punisher,” the Artisan Entertainment movie based on Marvel’s comicbook avenger.

Artisan sales agent Summit Entertainment previously sold rights in eight Southeast Asian and Middle East territories, including China and India, but Columbia TriStar Film Distributors Intl. will handle the rest of the world other than the U.S., where Artisan will distribute.In the pic, Thomas Jane will play a federal drug agent who turns vigilante after his family is killed by a crime boss played by John Travolta. Jonathan Hensleigh will helm, with Gale Anne Hurd and Marvel’s Avi Arad producing. Shooting has not yet begun on pic, which is slated for a summer 2004 release.

Col’s current Marvel properties include the “Spider-Man” sequel as well as “Luke Cage” and “Ghost Rider.”

Deal was made amid a web of lawsuits between Marvel and Sony over their deal on “Spider-Man.” On Friday, Marvel filed suit against Sony Electronics, claiming the gadget-making giant both refused to license the “Spider-Man” property for its devices and lobbied Sony Pictures Entertainment against licensing the property to any electronics competitors.

Previously, Marvel sued Sony over allegations the studio had hijacked the “Spider-Man” property in the minds of retailers. Sony countersued, alleging that Marvel was trying to force renegotiation of their original merchandising and licensing deal.

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