Painter lights up holiday release

Lionsgate and the Firm are partnering on a feature adaptation of Thomas Kinkade’s painting “The Christmas Cottage,” aiming for a holiday season release.

The project’s part of an overall film-TV producing deal that Lionsgate made with Kinkade, who’s become a successful artist via paintings with glowing highlights in idealistic settings, such as country cottages and streams.

Kinkade’s company asserts it’s sold $1.7 billion of artwork at retail over the past 15 years along with $2.4 billion in licensed product sales — such as greeting cards and calendars — over the past decade, resulting in Kinkade art being found in one out of every 10 U.S. households.

“Christmas Cottage,” set to begin shooting next month, will be financed by Lionsgate and produced by Kinkade’s Birch Grove Films and Stirling Media labels. Producers will be the Firm’s Julie Yorn along Thomas & Nanette Kinkade and Michael & Arla Dietz Campus. The Firm’s Marc C. Gordon will be a co-exec producer.

Michael Campus also will direct. Film, penned by Ken LaZebnick (“Prairie Home Companion”), will be partly biographical, based on how Kincade was motivated to begin his career as an artist after discovering his mother was in danger of losing the family home.

Casting’s underway and shooting’s starting next month in Vancouver.

Lionsgate production chief Michael Paseornek told Daily Variety that the company was attracted to making a deal with Kinkade, partly because of the accessibility of his artwork and his massive mailing list. He noted that average retail price for a limited canvas is $1,000 while average retail for decorative art is $150.

“His art really appeals to a very wide range of buyers,” Paseornek added.

Lionsgate has already launched development of a second Kinkade project but is keeping details under wraps.

LaZebnick’s repped by Metropolitan Talent Agency.

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