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Mutual, Newmarket team to develop, fund pix

Mutual Film Co. and Newmarket Capital Group have formed a joint venture to finance and distribute several pics a year in the $8 million-$15 million range.

The new partners have acquired two scripts, which they expect to greenlight within the next two weeks. The titles were not disclosed.

On the domestic side, the films will go through Mutual’s first-look deal at Paramount. However, pics will not necessarily need to have secured domestic distribution in order to go into production.

Mutual Film Intl., under head of international sales Pamela Pickering, will handle all foreign sales.

Mutual’s foreign partners — BBC (UK), UGC (France), Toho Towa/Marubeni (Japan) and Telemuenchen (Germany) — may take some of the titles created by the venture, but their participation will not be necessary for the projects to get financing.

“This deal combines Mutual’s talent, management and distribution capabilities with Newmarket’s financial infrastructure,” says Mutual principal Gary Levinsohn.

Newmarket, which partners Will Tyrer and Chris Ball, will provide the financing for the pics. Mutual and Newmarket will share ownership of the titles.

According to Levinsohn, who is partnered in Mutual with Mark Gordon, the overhead costs of the operation will be low. Newmarket may underwrite some development.

“We get a lot of really interesting product coming in to this company,” Levinsohn says. “This deal allows us to do things such as remake films from our partner’s libraries, to make things that are really commercial.”

While the budgets for the films will generally be in the $8 million-to-$15 million range, they could go higher, says Levinsohn, depending on casting and other considerations.

The new deal sits alongside Mutual’s focus on bigger budget films, such as “Primary Colors” and “The Jackal,” which it is sharing with Universal Pictures, and “Hard Rain,” which it split with Paramount.

It also sits alongside a deal that Newmarket signed this year with Neal Moritz’ Original Film, to finance and distribute several genre titles each year. Tyrer and Ball say the Mutual deal is similar to the Original one.

Prior to the formation of Mutual, Levinsohn worked with Tyrer and Ball on the 1995 teen pic “Angus.” Newmarket was subsequently involved in financing two of Mutual’s productions, ” A Simple Plan” and “Hard Rain.”

Newmarket comes to Cannes with two pics that it has financed in official sections: Todd Haynes’ “Velvet Goldmine,” (Competition) and Niki Caro’s “Memory and Desire” (Critics Week). Goldwyn Films is handling worldwide sales on both.

Newmarket also is providing the production funding and has an equity stake in Mike Leigh’s $20 million untitled Gilbert & Sullivan project. Pic begins shooting on July 6.

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