‘Gray’ sets off WB, FilmFour pic pact

3-year co-prod'n deal bows with Blanchett starrer

CANNES — FilmFour has entered a co-production alliance with Warner Bros., which will kick off with Gillian Armstrong’s “Charlotte Gray,” starring Cate Blanchett.

Warner will take North American rights to “Gray,” which starts shooting in February, with FilmFour handling the rest of the world.

Under the long-term deal, Warner will co-produce around half a dozen FilmFour projects over the next three years. Warner will always take North American rights, but may also pick up other foreign territories on a picture-by-picture basis.

The deal marks a huge step forward by FilmFour in its ambition to become a major international player. The company, which is the movie arm of U.K. web Channel 4, already has an output deal with Germany’s Senator Films, under which Senator will take German rights to at least 16 out of FilmFour’s next 18 productions.

FilmFour, which has always specialized in quirky low-budget Brit fare such as “Trainspotting” and the recent hit “East Is East,” is seeking to add bigger-budget international projects to its slate. These are the pics that Warner will co-produce.

The deal was struck by FilmFour chief exec with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Warner’s head of worldwide production.

“Lorenzo initially approached us to discuss working together on the same kind of films that FilmFour has made its name with,” commented Webster. “The key will be to work closely together throughout production and into the distribution and marketing of the pictures worldwide.

“This is an amazing opportunity for FilmFour to learn from Warner’s incredible expertise and contribute our own fresh take on things.”

Di Bonaventura said, “We are thrilled to join forces with FilmFour and tap into their excellent pedigree producing and marketing distinctive, high-quality independent films.

” ‘Charlotte Gray’ is the perfect launch title for the alliance,” he added. “Gillian Armstrong and Cate Blanchett are formidable talents and we look forward to their creative interpretation of this powerful story.”

Adapted by Jeremy Brock (“Mrs. Brown”) from the novel by Sebastian Faulks, “Gray” is a WWII story about a Scottish woman who becomes an undercover agent in Nazi-occupied France, in an attempt to find her pilot boyfriend, who was shot down.

It is being produced by Sarah Curtis and Douglas Rae for Ecosse Films, exec produced by Robert Bernstein.

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