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Col inks Sarandon for ‘Women’

Susan Sarandon will star with Winona Ryder in the latest film version of “Little Women,” which is set to start production as early as April 18 in Vancouver, B.C., sources familiar with the Columbia Pictures production said Tuesday.

Sarandon has agreed to play Mrs. Marmee March — a role portrayed by Spring Byington in the 1933 film version and Mary Astor in the 1949 film.

A spokeswoman for Sarandon’s agents at International Creative Management said her deal has not closed, while a Columbia Pictures spokesman declined comment. ICM and Colpix have been negotiating a “Little Women” agreement for several weeks.

To be directed by Gillian Armstrong, the adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s famed novel looms as Colpix’s major Christmas release. Columbia is considering Christian Bale (“Swing Kids,””Empire of the Sun”) to tackle the role of Laurie Lawrence.

If a deal is officially closed, Sarandon’s salary will likely push “Little Women” past its originally contemplated $ 16 million budget. In that scenario, Colpix would pay out deferments of $ 300,000 to producer Denise Di Novi and $ 2. 37 million to Ryder if the movie were to reach an $ 89 million domestic box office gross. Ryder was also skedded to receive a $ 560,000 deferment at $ 50 million in domestic box office gross. No other major deferments were scheduled in what shapes up as a low-risk pic.

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