Zoetrope, VCL pact

Coppola's company signs 10-pic int'l distribution deal

CANNES — Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope and VCL Film + Medien have closed their 10-pic co-financing and international distribution deal, with domestic distribution going through MGM’s UA Films label.

VCL has appointed London-based Capitol Films as the international sales agent for the entire slate.

Although as many as four films could go into production by the end of this year, the first title under the deal is expected to be the horror film “Jeepers Creepers.”

As previously reported (Daily Variety, May 8), the VCL agreement will continue Zoetrope’s strong relationship with Willi Baer, who has joined international sales arm VCL Licensing as partner and managing director. Baer, who co-financed the Zoetrope-produced “The Virgin Suicides,” was instrumental in bringing the parties together.

“I am delighted to have found in Willi Baer and VCL a strong international partner who shares our view of filmmaking and the opportunities in the marketplace,” Coppola said. “Now we can offer filmmakers a well-financed and creative environment in which to make their films.”

Eclectic mix

American Zoetrope has been developing an eclectic group of filmmaker-driven projects for the last year and expects to move into production with its first films this summer.

“The completion of the finance and distribution arrangement for American Zoetrope is a great development,” said Larry Gleason, president of worldwide theatrical distribution of MGM/UA and co-head of United Artists Films.

VCL is the largest independent home entertainment distributor in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and is currently expanding into other media and territories. The company had an initial public offering in Germany in May 1999 and is now on the Dax 100 Exchange.

Added VCL CEO Datty Ruth, “We are proud of our new association with American Zoetrope and Francis Ford Coppola and look forward to supporting and releasing these quality pictures around the world.”

Representing American Zoetrope in the transaction were ICM and the law firm Armstrong Hirsch Jackoway Tyerman & Wertheimer.