IEG gaining with ‘Gangs’

Financier secures int'l distrib'n for Scorsese's DiCaprio starrer

Initial Entertainment Group has completed rights deals in four more territories for “Gangs of New York,” directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

In addition to a deal with Nippon Herald/Shochiku in Japan (Variety, Nov.15-21), IEG has secured rights agreements with CLT-UFA International for SND and M6 in France as well as Eastern Europe, RCV 2001 for the Benelux and Scholar Films for Taiwan. IEG has also partnered with Splendid Film Klein to take all German-speaking rights.

These active territory sales come despite Robert DeNiro’s decision not to co-star in the pic. Though reports cropped up earlier this month that the film might be falling apart after DeNiro pulled out, it’s understood that IEG’s deal with Disney (which owns the film) for the foreign rights was contingent only on Scorsese and DiCaprio’s involvement in the pic. Their deals are understood to be closed, and the pic seems headed for an April start in Rome.

In October, IEG agreed to put up $65 million to finance “Gangs” — budgeted in the $90 million range — in exchange for foreign rights (Daily Variety, October 11, 1999). At that time Disney-owned Miramax Films agreed to cover the remaining budget and distribute the pic domestically. Miramax is also supervising the film’s production. “Gangs” is the second major film to be financed by IEG since partnering with German distributor Splendid Medien AG — which owns a 49% stake in IEG. The company also is co-financing Robert Altman’s “Dr. T and the Women,” starring Richard Gere.

IEG previously financed and produced such films as “Very Bad Things” starring Cameron Diaz and Christian Slater, and “Savior,” starring Dennis Quaid.