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Gallic TF1 Int’l going English with ‘Druids’

Company picks up world rights to Lambert starrer

CANNES — TF1 Intl. has picked up world rights, except for France, Spain and Italy, to Jacques Dorfmann’s $15 million historical actioner “Druids,” in the latest example of a Gallic company investing in an English-language project.

“Druids” will star Christopher Lambert as Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix, who waged a bloody and ultimately unsuccessful military campaign against Julius Caesar.

‘Braveheart’ mold

The film will start shooting this summer in Bulgaria and is described as “being very much in the ‘Braveheart’ style” by execs at TF1 Intl., the film sales arm of France’s TF1 television group.

Also lined up for the English-lingo pic are Max von Sydow and Klaus Maria Braundauer, who will play Caesar.

TF1 Intl. has fast-tracked its investment in non-French projects since being set up four years ago.

“Our objective is to represent around 15 films per year,” company CEO Didier Sapaut said. “Of those, we expect 50% to be in English, with around five projects coming from the United States.”

The company kicked off its English-language investments with Martin Scorsese’s 1995 “Casino”; last month, it announced it had taken all rights outside the U.S. to James Ivory’s $20 million “The Golden Bowl,” starring Uma Thurman, Nick Nolte and Anjelica Huston. Based on the Henry James novel, the pic will start shooting in August.

Shooting has just begun on Stephen Hopkins’ “Under Suspicion,” toplining Morgan Freeman and Gene Hackman alongside Thomas Jane and Monica Bellucci. TF1 Intl. has world rights on this remake of Claude Miller’s 1981 “Garde a Vue.”

Winding up filming is Michael Cacoyannis’ “The Cherry Orchard,” starring Charlotte Rampling, Alan Bates and Katrin Cartlidge. Sales discussions on “Druids,” “Golden Bowl” and “Cherry Orchard” are set to start in Cannes.

Nameless deal

TF1 Intl. also is involved in the British-based production joint venture bringing together FilmFour and Arnon Milchan’s Regency. The pact, which has yet to find a name, is designed to turn out three English-language pictures a year, with TF1 Intl. holding French rights, FilmFour taking the U.K., Regency handling television sales, and Fox distributing in the U.S. and the rest of the world.

According to Sapaut, the first pic of the new entity should go into production this year.

Set to start shooting this summer is Oz director Kimble Rendall’s horror comedy “Cut,” starring Molly Ringwald and Kylie Minogue, for which TF1 Intl. has a promo reel in Cannes.

At this year’s fest, TF1 Intl. sales head Perrine Teze has her largest slate to date, made up of some 19 pics. “It’s a big Cannes for us,” enthuses Teze, who has virtually sold all territories to Cannes Competition entry “8-1/2 Women” from Peter Greenaway — Lions Gate holds the U.S. rights.

Teze has two pics in Un Certain Regard, Ferzan Ozpetek’s “Harem Suare” and Emilie Deleuze’s “Peau Neuve.” In addition, Benoit Mariage’s “Les Convoyeurs Attendent” is appearing in Directors Fortnight.