New pact includes remake of 'Lives of Others'

The Weinstein Co. has renewed its exclusive first-look deal with Sydney Pollack and Anthony Minghella’s Mirage banner for another three years.

The new pact, announced Wednesday, also includes English-language remake rights to Oscar-winning pic “The Lives of Others.” The German take on the East Berlin secret police bowled over critics and notched a semi-surprise win Sunday in the foreign-language race. Three weeks into its limited run, the Sony Classics release has grossed $1.3 million.

In addition to “Others,” Mirage has set up several projects under the deal. Of those, “The Reader” appears closest to being made. Director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter David Hare are prepping the romance for a late-summer shoot.

Other film projects include “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” a comedy from “The Devil Wears Prada” screenwriting-directing combo Aline Brosh McKenna and David Frankel; “The Amulet of Samarkand,” based on the first novel in Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus Trilogy; and the Minghella-scripted and -helmed “The Ninth Life of Louis Drax.”

Minghella is also attached to direct the pilot for TV series “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency,” which he co-scripted with Richard Curtis. The show is likely headed for cable, but no deal has been set.

TWC and Mirage recently combined for Jude Law-Juliet Binoche drama “Breaking and Entering,” which is still in theaters after five weeks with about $450,000 in the till.

Pollack started the prolific Mirage banner on the eve of “Out of Africa’s” release in 1985. In 2001, he officially added Minghella as partner.

Minghella has directed almost all of his films for Miramax or TWC, notably “The English Patient,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (a share with Par) and “Cold Mountain.” Mirage also teamed with Miramax on “Sliding Doors,” “Iris” and “The Quiet American.”

Mirage has made it a priority to tap first-time helmers, as with “Doors’ ” Peter Howitt and Ang Lee, whose first English-language pic was Mirage’s “Sense and Sensibility.” That was what drove the decision to pact with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, who helmed “Lives of Others.”

“We would just desperately love for that film to be something that reaches more people (via remake),” Pollack said by telephone Wednesday. “We haven’t gotten locked into making it yet, but we’re working hard at trying to get it going.”

TWC is a differently constituted partner than Miramax Films in some ways, but Pollack said his mission was not likely to change.

“Right now, our focus is on getting films made, though all of the diverse businesses Harvey is getting into are very exciting,” he said.

In his lengthy career, Pollack has worked various ends of the budget spectrum, producing “Cold Mountain,” the steep price of which helped hasten the Miramax-Disney divorce, down to playing a small role in microbudget Sundance fave “40 Shades of Blue.” The new first-look deal would not have any restrictions as far as budget.

“The world has gotten preoccupied with less expensive movies,” Pollack said.

One consequence of that has been an increased tendency toward lit adaptations.

“The higher the risk, the more desperate the financiers get for protection,” Pollack said. “A book at least tells them the framework of a movie. I personally prefer to do originals, because with adaptations, you have a lot of challenges. But I happen to have a partner who’s brilliant at them.”

Colin Vaines, TWC’s exec VP of European production and development, will oversee Mirage’s projects.

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