Co. hopes to clinch deals in Spain, Germany, Oz within 6 months
Britain’s most prolific producer, Spice Factory, has six films that are either under way or set to roll in the next six months and it is rapidly assembling a network of co-producers/distribs in Europe and Australia.The firm headed by Michael Cowan and Jason Piette has just bought a stake in a prominent French firm (due to be unveiled soon), replicating its Italo co-venture with Blue Star Movies. It intends to clinch similar deals in Spain and Germany within six months and is negotiating an alliance with an Aussie distrib. “Spice Factory is building a mini European studio-style structure with a low investment cost, maximizing returns with our partners in these countries both from distribution and production,” Cowan tells Variety. In the U.K., it plans to create a P&A fund with an initial kitty of $4.8 million-$8 million, which will enable it to funnel films via various Blighty distribs. Founded in 1996, Spice Factory has been involved in various capacities in 37 films. Foreign rights to most of its pics are handled by Arclight Films, of which it owns 15%. Its slate includes “Evilenko,” a thriller toplining Malcolm McDowell and Marton Csokas, written and helmed by David Grieco, lensing in the Ukraine. “M,” based on a popular Gallic comic, is due to shoot in August as a U.K.-Canadian-French co-prod, budgeted at around $30 million. Gong Li will topline and James Huth will direct. “Nouvelle France,” a romance starring Gerard Depardieu, Irene Jacob and Samuel Le Bihan, is slated to crank up in July under helmer Jean Beauein, also costing $30 million. “Forgotten Games,” writer-director David Ondaatje’s recounting of the British ice hockey team that won a gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, is pegged to lense in October. Cowan says CAA is packaging the project and the lead roles are out to Anthony Hopkins and Hayden Christensen. Julian Jarrold (“White Teeth”) is signed to direct “Earthquake Bird,” saga of a love triangle involving two English girls and a Japanese guy, starting in October. “Moles,” a sci-fier penned and co-directed by David Munoz and Antonio Trashorras, is skedded to roll in October in Spain and the U.K. Cowan hopes Jean Reno will topline.