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Miramax, Film4 pact with Ruby Films

Trio co-developing 'Stalin,' 'Friends Like These'

Miramax Films and Film4 have struck a development and production deal with Alison Owen and Paul Trijbits of Ruby Films, the British company behind “The Other Boleyn Girl.”

Overall deal is Miramax’s first anywhere in the world since Daniel Battsek moved from Disney’s London office to run the studio’s specialty division in 2005.

The three-year pact gives Miramax and Film4 first look to co-develop and co-produce Ruby features. Miramax will take worldwide rights to movies made under the partnership, with Film4 retaining U.K. TV rights.

Miramax and Film4 are already working with Ruby to develop “Young Stalin,” directed by Pawel Pawlikowski. John Hodge is writing the adaptation of Simon Sebag Montefiore’s bestselling biography, which recounts the Soviet dictator’s early years as a charismatic terrorist in Georgia at the turn of the 20th century.

Also in co-development is “Friends Like These,” based on the book by British humorist Danny Wallace about what happened when he decided to track down his 12 best friends from childhood.

Owen, who received an Oscar nomination for “Elizabeth” in 1999, founded Ruby a decade ago, producing such pics as “Sylvia,” “Proof” and “Brick Lane.” Trijbits became her partner last year after six years as head of the U.K. Film Council’s New Cinema Fund.

Owen also has an informal co-producing relationship with Scott Rudin, who himself has a production deal with Disney and Miramax.

Rudin and Owen worked together on “The Other Boleyn Girl” for Sony, Focus and BBC Films. They already have a number of other projects in joint development with Film4, including a film based on Zadie Smith’s novel “On Beauty,” which Abi Morgan is adapting, and a movie version of Enda Walsh’s play “Chatroom,” as well as plans to join forces on projects for Miramax in the future.

Ruby has had a first-look deal with Film4 for two years, but that pact has now been extended and expanded to accommodate the larger relationship with Miramax. Accord goes beyond a simple joint first-look deal, as it lays down a clear structure for the two partners to greenlight and fully finance production at various budget levels, typically $10 million-$20 million.

It will give Ruby the resources to compete for British material and talent with the U.S. majors and with other U.K. producers that have studio backing, such as Working Title and DNA Films.

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