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40 ACRES & A MULE TO COL

Spike Lee will hitch up his 40 Acres and a Mule and bring them to Columbia Pictures in a three-year, first-look deal, the studio announced Friday.

He will maintain an office on Col’s Culver City lot in addition to his New York offices, which house 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks.

Lee last directed “Get on the Bus,” about the Million Man March on Washington, for Col. The pic, which cost only $2 million, drew critical raves and grossed $5.7 million.

Columbia prexy Amy Pascal and president of production Barry Josephson are hoping Lee can bring a similar rate of return to the studio with higher-budged fare.

“We feel there’s an enormous potential for Spike to reach audiences that are not traditionally associated with Spike Lee movies, and we’re excited to get involved in this new chapter in his development as a filmmaker,” Pascal said.

Pascal and Lee worked together on a biopic of baseball player Jackie Robinson for Turner Pictures last year when Pascal was in charge there. The project fell apart over creative differences.

“I’m happy that we have a home now at Columbia,” Lee said. “We’re eager to go to work, eager to produce.”

The pact represents a reunion of sorts for Lee, whose eight-week internship at Columbia was his first job in show business.

Lee’s last deal was two years ago with Universal, which produced “Crooklyn,” “Mo’ Better Blues,” “Jungle Fever” and “Do the Right Thing,” the last of which garnered him an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay and awards from the L.A. Film Critics’ Assn.

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