Studio ups the battle between rival biopics

PARIS

The battle between the two Yves Saint Laurent biopics ticked up a notch on Wednesday, with news that EuropaCorp has boarded helmer Bertrand Bonello’s “Saint Laurent.”

Luc Besson’s mini-major has signed up as a producer with France’s Mandarin Cinema, and has taking Gallic theatrical and home entertainment rights plus international sales rights.

Bonello’s biopic stars Gaspard Ulliel (“The Princess of Montpensier”) as the French fashion icon who died in 2008, leading a high-profile cast including Lea Seydoux (“Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”) as his flamboyant muse Loulou de la Falaise, and Jeremie Renier (“My Way”) as the designer’s lover and business partner, Pierre Berge.

Bonello co-wrote the script with Thomas Bidegain (“Rust and Bone,” “The Prophet”). Cesar-winning costume designer Anais Romand oversees wardrobe.

Bonello’s bio faces off with helmer Jalil Lespert’s “Yves Saint Laurent,” backed by another French heavyweight, SND-M6 Group, which announced a raft of international pre-sales at European Film Market during the Berlin Film Festival earlier this month.

Films Distribution co-developed and packaged Bonello’s movie with Eric and Nicolas Altmayer’s Mandarin Cinema. But EuropaCorp’s involvement raises the stakes.

“We fell in love with the script, and are immensely happy to be involved in this tribute to a genius who embodies better than anyone France’s creative tradition,” said EuropaCorp CEO Christophe Lambert.

“Given its international cache, and its record of bringing films to wider audiences, EuropaCorp is the perfect partner for Bertrand Bonello’s ‘Saint Laurent,’ ” said Films Distribution’s Nicolas Brigaud-Robert.

“Saint Laurent” will shoot from mid-June for 10 weeks in Paris and Marrakech and be ready in time for Berlin in February 2014.

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