Duo to reteam for Avnet's indie thriller

CANNES — Robert De Niro and Al Pacino will team onscreen for just the second time in “Righteous Kill,” a $60 million indie production put together by Nu Image’s Millennium Films and Emmett/Furla Films.

Shooting will begin Aug. 6 in Connecticut, with some work in Gotham to follow. The two stars play cops chasing a serial killer. Jon Avnet will direct and produce; “Inside Man” scribe Russell Gewirtz penned the script.

Nu Image topper Avi Lerner and Randall Emmett, two of the pic’s six producers, did not disclose additional plot details or the source material during a short press briefing Thursday. Rights to all world territories are being shopped in Cannes.

Emmett said the idea for the film originated from the two actors’ desire to co-star. “They’re friends, and this really all got started from that,” he said.

With typical showmanship, seated in the Nu Image Noga Hilton suite overlooking the beach, Lerner went a step farther.

“This is an event in world history,” he said. “They were in two scenes in ‘Heat.’ In this movie, they are in the whole thing together.”

Both thesps starred in “The Godfather: Part II” but had no scenes together.

CAA, which reps the two stars plus the helmer and scripter, played a key role in the final negotiations, which wrapped in the wee hours Thursday. More casting is under way, but Lerner said CAA clients were not necessarily in line for additional roles.

The existence of such a high-octane indie project is testament to the health of the well-funded new players that have emerged in the past couple of years, Lerner said. While Nu Image is hardly a newbie at 15 years and counting, it is among the companies capable of steering a full-scale, studio-esque production.

“We believe the independent world will do it more effectively, more cost-effectively and with more of the heart,” Lerner said. “When we make something, we allow filmmakers to be filmmakers.”

He cited “John Rambo,” “16 Blocks” and “The Black Dahlia,” some recent and upcoming pics nurtured by Nu Image and eventually marketed and distributed by a studio.

Lonnie Romati negotiated on behalf of Millennium.

Aside from Lerner, Emmett and Avnet, the producers are Boaz Davidson, George Furla and Alexandra Milchan (daughter of New Regency’s Arnon). Exec producers are Danny Dimbort and Trevor Short.

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