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Pair smooth as ‘Silk’

New Line, Picturehouse team on drama

New Line Intl. and Picturehouse, the joint distribution venture between New Line and HBO Films, have picked up rights in most of the world to helmer Francois Girard’s upcoming romantic drama “Silk.”

Michael Pitt, Keira Knightley, Koji Yakusho and Alfred Molina will star.

Script is based on the bestseller by Alessandro Baricco about a 19th century French silkworm merchant who travels to Japan, where he starts up a forbidden romance with a mysterious, sensual woman.

Production is slated to begin next month in Japan and will wrap in late May in Italy after shoots across Egypt and Asia.

Adapted by Girard — whose helming credits include “The Red Violin” — and Michael Golding, pic is being produced through the Rhombus Media, Fandango S.R.L and Bee Vine Pictures banners, in association with Prods. Soie and Vice Versa Films. Niv Fichman, Nadine Luque, Domenico Procacci and Sonoko Sakai are the producers.

Announcement of the pickup was made as Picturehouse head Bob Berney was boarding a plane for Sundance.

Motion Picture Distribution is handling Canadian distribution. Fandango will distrib in Italy, and Asmik Ace will unspool “Silk” in Japan. New Line Intl. will handle the rest of the world.

Pact had originally been in the works under New Line Intl., and Picturehouse was brought in to handle the U.S.

Picturehouse was launched formally in Cannes. The banner’s upcoming slate includes Michael Winterbottom’s “Tristram Shandy: A Cock & Bull Story” and Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

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