Studio commits $ for U.S. release; date to be decided

VENICE — Aurelio De Laurentiis’ gamble on “The World of Tomorrow” is continuing to pay off.

After acquiring North American rights to “World” in June, Paramount Pictures has picked up U.K., Australia and New Zealand rights to the retro sci-fi actioner, starring Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow, for a $10 million minimum guarantee, De Laurentiis said Thursday. He added that in June Paramount agreed to pay $40 million for U.S. and Canadian rights.

The $70 million “World” — entirely financed by De Laurentiis and produced by Jon Avnet — is directed by 29-year-old first-timer Kerry Conran. Principal photography on the action-animation combo, in which the actors played entirely against a bluescreen, wrapped in April in London. Post-production is scheduled to end in June.

Paramount has committed to spend $20 million to print 2,000 copies for the U.S. release, for which no date has been set, De Laurentiis said. The release strategy will be decided this fall.

De Laurentiis has given Conran the greenlight to start penning the sequel to “World.” Plan is for a three-picture franchise with the same cast and substantial merchandising potential.

Set in 1939 New York, “World” concerns a reporter (Paltrow) and a man named Sky Captain (Law) on a mission to track down a mad scientist who wants to take over the world. Additional cast includes Angelina Jolie, Giovanni Ribisi and Bai Ling.

Also producing are Avnet’s production partner Marsha Oglesby, and Law and his wife, Sadie Frost, from whom he is separated. Exec producing with De Laurentiis are his cousin Raffaella De Laurentiis and Bill Haber.

This week the Rome-based Aurelio De Laurentiis made the No. 1 slot in a local film industry power list compiled by the movie magazine Ciak. His uncle, L.A.-based Dino De Laurentiis, will be awarded a career Golden Lion in Venice on Monday.

Coming up

Other international projects in early development stages in Aurelio De Laurentiis’ Filmauro pipeline is an adaptation of the Truman Capote short novel “Hand Carved Coffins.” De Laurentiis said he is seeking a writer to adapt the tale to present day with women assuming the key male roles.

De Laurentiis said he also is preparing a picture based on “I Beati Paoli,” an Italian novel set in 17th century Palermo. “Forget ‘The Sopranos.’ This is much more fascinating,” he enthused about the project. He has had the book translated and is trying to get it published in the U.S.

At Venice, De Laurentiis acquired Italian rights from Flack Pyramide Intl. for Bruno Dumont’s California-set “29 Palms,” which will screen in competition.

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