Oater harvest at indie studio

Lionsgate has boarded Russell Crowe starrer “3:10 to Yuma,” pacting to distribute the oater in the U.S.

Christian Bale also has signed on to star in the pic, a remake of the 1957 Western toplining Glenn Ford. Pic is set to start lensing next month.

Lionsgate struck the high-profile deal with Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media, which decided to finance the film after Sony put the project into turnaround earlier in the summer, forcing helmer James Mangold and producing partner (and wife) Cathy Konrad to look elsewhere for coin. Project is budgeted at just under $50 million.

Lionsgate will spend a minimum of $30 million on prints and advertising. Generally speaking, the indie studio only spends $15 million-$20 million on wide releases.

Studio execs said the decision to push the boundaries reflects the continued growth of Lionsgate, pointing to bigger-budget pics like “Crank” and “Rogue,” as well as to the studio’s first-ever Oscar win for best pic, “Crash”.

Stuart Beattie, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas penned the script for “Yuma.” Storyline revolves around a desperado who is caught by a sheriff determined to bring the outlaw in. Sheriff’s plans go awry when the desperado’s accomplices stage an ambush.

Pic, Mangold and Konrad’s follow-up to “Walk the Line,” originally attracted the attention of Tom Cruise. Crowe stepped up after falling out of Baz Luhrmann’s next film.

Lionsgate also has bought distrib rights in several key foreign territories, including the U.K. and Germany, as well as domestic home entertainment rights. This is sure to rankle home entertainment company Image Entertainment, which recently inked an output deal with Relativity. Lionsgate has been trying to buy Image for more than a year, and is now waging a fight to replace the entire board at the company’s annual meeting next month.

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