Miramax gains ‘Celebrity’

Allen returns to scene of previous triumphs

NEW YORK — Woody Allen and Miramax Films are back in business again.

Miramax has acquired North American rights to Allen’s latest film, “Celebrity,” an ensemble comedy starring Kenneth Branagh, Judy Davis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Melanie Griffith, Famke Janssen, Joe Mantegna, Gretchen Mol, Winona Ryder, Charlize Theron and others.

“I look forward to working with Miramax again,” said Allen. “We have done three pictures together and the experience was very successful and positive. It should be exciting.”

Prior to the Fine Line Features release “Deconstructing Harry,” Miramax had distributed three consecutive films by the prolific New York director — “Bullets Over Broadway,” “Mighty Aphrodite” and “Everyone Says I Love You.”

“Celebrity” was produced by Jean Doumanian, exec produced by J.E. Beaucaire and co-exec produced by Letty Aronson, Allen’s sister.

As is the case with all of Allen’s projects, “Celebrity” was bought sight unseen. Other distributors that had expressed interest in the film include Fine Line, Sony Pictures Classics, Fox Searchlight and Paramount’s untitled classics division.

“I’m very happy to be back in business with Woody Allen, Jean Doumanian and Letty Aronson,” said Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein. “For ‘Celebrity,’ I couldn’t imagine a more talented cast, which includes both actors that have a great history with us, and actors we’ve always wanted to work with.”

Sources familiar with Sweetland Films, the European-backed financing vehicle for Doumanian’s projects, say Guy East and Nigel Sinclair’s Intermedia is in discussions to handle foreign rights for “Celebrity.”

Doumanian sold North American rights to Allen’s last film “Deconstructing Harry” and Barbara Kopple’s Allen documentary “Wild Man Blues” as a package to Fine Line last year in Cannes.

Foreign rights for those films and two other Doumanian productions — “The Spanish Prisoner” and “Into My Heart” — were handled by Intermedia.

“Celebrity” is the fifth Woody Allen pic to be produced by Doumanian. “I’m pleased Harvey and Bob are so enthusiastic about distributing ‘Celebrity,’ ” Doumanian said. “I look forward to again working with the Miramax team on the successful release of this exceptional Woody Allen film.”

The deal was negotiated on behalf of Miramax by Weinstein and Charles Layton, exec vice president, office of the chairman. On behalf of Jean Doumanian Prods., the deal was negotiated by John Logigian.