Ferrara’s a Franchise player

Helmer inks three-pic pact with prod'n company

Elie Samaha’s Franchise Pictures has set up a three-pic deal with “Bad Lieutenant” helmer Abel Ferrara that will kick off with the drug-dealer kidnapping drama “Our Christmas.”

Ferrara will direct, write and serve as a producing partner with Franchise on the trio of pics. No details were available on the latter two features.

The filmmaker is currently at work on the script for “Christmas.” Though no talent deals have been inked, Ferrara has spoken to Samuel L. Jackson and Cameron Diaz for possible leads.

Pic, which is based on a newspaper article optioned by Franchise, is the story of a New York City drug dealer who is kidnapped on Christmas Eve and his wife’s attempt to free her husband from almost certain death.

The vet filmmaker was at Cannes last year with “Blackout.”

Franchise, which is based in Cannes at the Majestic Hotel, is an L.A.-based production and distrib operation launched by Samaha, Ashak Amritraj and Andrew Stevens with the intent of handling 12-15 pics per year in the $10 million to $25 million range.

Franchise’s sister company Phoenician Films recently set up Kiefer Sutherland’s “Woman Wanted” with Sutherland directing and starring along with Holly Hunter and Michael Moriarty.