Lions Gate likely to handle U.S. distrib'n for Spacey pic

HOLLYWOOD — Kevin Spacey’s Bobby Darin biopic “Beyond the Sea” is facing problems before the first scene is even shot.

Pic’s original backers — Mark Damon’s MDP Worldwide and MGM — have dropped out, with distribution now likely to be handled by Lions Gate Films, at least in the U.S.

Jim Reeve and Steve Robbins’ U.K.-based tax financier, Visionview, appears poised to act as Lions Gate’s equity partner.

Pic is skedded to begin production Oct. 6.

Spacey will direct and star as Darin, with Kate Bosworth portraying Sandra Dee.

Spacey, Andy Patterson and Arthur Friedman produce. Phil Ramone will serve as music producer.

MDP’s Mark Damon and Joanne Horowitz still plan to serve as exec producers.

According to a statement released by MDP Monday, “The withdrawal is due to Spacey’s need to complete the film with the availability of the cast and production personnel by the end of 2003, which conflicted with MDP’s current production schedule.”

Spacey said: “I am enormously grateful to MDP’s faith in getting the film this far. I am very pleased that the film is going forward on schedule and will continue to be thankful to MDP for making a decision that is clearly in the best interest of the film.”

MDP has of late been concentrating on more obviously commercial fare.

Visionview, which backed Stephen Fry’s upcoming release “Bright Young Things,” has a nonexclusive relationship with Jeanine Gold and Natalie Brenner’s sales company Element X. Latter could be in the running to handle some foreign sales on Spacey’s pic.

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