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Artisan, Aronofsky in tune on ‘Requiem’

Dreamy drug pic to star Burstyn, Connelly, Wayans

Artisan Entertainment and Gotham-based Palmer West’s Sibling Prods. will finance and produce “Pi” helmer Darren Aronofsky’s second feature, “Requiem for a Dream.”

Slated to start shooting in mid-April on location in Coney Island, pic will star Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans and Christopher McDonald along with Jared Leto, who had been announced earlier as in talks for the project.

Based on the Hubert Selby Jr. novel, pic delves into drug addiction and delusional dreams in the lives of a young man (Leto), his girlfriend (Connelly), best friend (Wayans) and mother (Burstyn).

Aronofsky adapted the screenplay and will helm. He already shot a week’s worth of footage on the pic last December.

Sibling bows

The project reps a Hollywood debut for Sibling and West, a 25-year-old producer who financed and produced “Saturn,” an indie pic helmed by Rob Schmidt.

Budget on “Requiem” is roughly $4.5 million. Artisan is putting up $2.2 million and the marketing and distrib costs. Palmer West’s sister and Sibling partner Paige West are ponying up the additional $2.5 million.

Despite the pic’s minimal budget, the project is top-heavy with producers.

Eric Watson, of Aronofsky’s Protozoa production company, will produce with West. Industry Entertainment’s Nick Wechsler, Bandeira Entertainment’s Beau Flynn and Stefan Simchowitz are exec producers, and Ben Barenholtz is co-exec producing. Jonah Smith, Scott Vogel and Randy Simon, all vets of “Pi,” will also co-produce.

“Pi” cinematographer Matthew Libatique will also join the “Requiem” team.

The pic has been a passion for Aronofsky since college. After reading the novel as an undergrad, Aronofsky and Watson sought out Selby and personally bought the film rights for a minimal fee.

After scoring with the $1 million sale of Sundance award winner “Pi,” which Aronofsky and Watson made for $60,000, Aronofsky inked deals for significant paydays for bigger-budgeted pics at Dimension (“Proteus”) and New Line Cinema (“Ronin” — though not the same as the recent MGM film).

Going both ways

But Aronofsky chose to take the indie route with his second film start.

“I want to make studio movies, but I’ve always had a passion for more different material, more challenging material,” Aronofsky said. “My aspiration is to be like John Sayles. He writes studio films and directs independent films. I’d like to direct studio films and make my own personal ones, flowing between the two.”

Artisan, which profited from “Pi,” was eager to step up, despite qualms about the dark subject matter.

“We’re pleased to be working with Darren on his newest endeavor and to continue the successful relationship we’ve shared,” said Bill Block, Artisan prexy.