Studio to distribute 'Dredd,' 'Safe,' 'Protection'

In a major deal for Stuart Ford’s IM Global, Lionsgate has picked up U.S. distribution rights to three action pictures from Ford’s worldwide sales and financing company: Pete Travis’ “Dredd,” Boaz Yakin’s “Safe” and Simon West’s “Protection.”

The announcement was jointly made Tuesday by Lionsgate co-chief operating officer and motion picture group prexy Joe Drake and Ford, founder and CEO of IM Global. Deal, announced on the eve of the American Film Market, has been in the works for several weeks.

“‘Safe,’ ‘Dredd’ and ‘Protection’ are genre films at their best, with charismatic stars, compelling stories and intense action,” said Lionsgate prexy of acquisitions and co-productions Jason Constantine.

Ford noted that Lionsgate had achieved strong performance from its recent release of “The Expendables,” which has topped $100 million domestically and grossed over $250 million worldwide.

The companies said “Safe” — currently in production with Jason Statham starring — would be the first title released under the deal, but they have not yet set a date. Pic’s produced by Lawrence Bender Prods. and Trigger Street Prods. and financed by IM Global.

“Dredd” starts production on Nov. 12 in Cape Town, South Africa. Project’s a 3D adaptation of the comicbook series with Karl Urban starring and DNA Films producing with a $45 million price tag.

IM Global saw brisk pre-sales of “Dredd” at the Toronto Film Fest in September with more than $30 million in foreign commitments, including a hefty $7 million deal for the futuristic pic with Blighty distrib Entertainment.

Pic, financed by IM Global and parent company Reliance Big Entertainment sold to Universum for Germany; Aurum for Spain; Icon for Australia; Alliance for Canada and CP Media for Russia, eOne for Benelux, IDC for Latin America and Svensk for Scandinavia.

IM Global’s planning a March production start on “Protection,” starring Dwayne Johnson and produced by Robert Lawrence, Gordon Gray and Ford. The film will shoot in New Mexico.

Brian Kavanaugh Jones of Automatik, IM Global’s production joint venture with Alliance Pictures, will exec produce “Safe” and “Protection.” Canada-based Alliance is a distribution partner in multiple territories on the three films.

Lionsgate is also partnered with Carl Icahn — its largest shareholder and frequent adversary — in a proposal to merge with MGM as an alternative to MGM’s plan to file for a pre-packaged bankruptcy that would leave Spyglass Entertainment execs in charge of MGM.

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