2 pix soar for Sky

Stars 'On the Nose' with a 'Kiss' in prod'n

British satcaster BSkyB’s film arm Sky Pictures, one of the partners behind Sundance hit “Saving Grace,” has put two new talent-laden pics into production.

The first, betting comedy “On the Nose,” starring Dan Aykroyd, “Grace” thesp Brenda Blethyn and Robbie Coltrane (“Cracker”), began lensing March 20 in Dublin. Directed by David Caffrey (“Divorcing Jack”) and written by Tony Philpott, the Canadian-Irish co-production is produced by Vancouver’s Cadence Entertainment and Dublin’s Subotica Entertainment.

“Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang),” toplining Danish actor Stellan Skarsgard (“Good Will Hunting”), Chris Penn (“Reservoir Dogs”) and Paul Bettany (the upcoming “Gangster No. 1”), started production in London last week. Written and directed by Stewart Sugg and produced by James Richardson of Norma Heyman’s London-based banner Pagoda Film, the film concerns a washed-up hit man forced to come out of retirement.

Content for satcaster

Pics are part of a larger Sky mission to produce up to 12 original films for the Rupert Murdoch-controlled satcaster. All films funneled through Sky Pictures will run on the Sky Premier channel and have a shot at a theatrical bow via Sky’s deal with sister company 20th Century Fox.

“We have a deal with Fox in the U.K., but not all films will go theatrically,” said Sky Pictures topper Will Turner.

Soccer player biopic “Best,” for instance, will debut on Sky Premier in May, while the Joan Allen starrer “When the Sky Falls” will first go out in theaters domestically via Fox.

“We work on a picture-by-picture basis,” continued Turner, who said pic budgets can range from $5 million to $15 million. “We’re not going to be doing the next Bond films, but we’d like to persuade British filmmakers to come back to the U.K.”

As Britain’s broadcasters face dwindling film budgets and the nation’s new Film Council busies itself with restructuring the disbursement of state and lottery funds, British producers see the fledgling Sky outfit as a welcome addition to the traditional film financing mix.

‘Young, dynamic team’

“Sky Pictures was signed onto our film right from the start,” said “Kiss Kiss” producer James Richardson. “They’re a young, dynamic team, and the films that they are going for are very commercial and seem to cross the U.S.-European divide.”

Among the other pics on Sky’s slate is John Duigan’s thriller “Paranoid,” starring Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jessica Alba, Iain Glen and Ewan Bremner. Pic is produced by Paul Trijbits, who has a long-standing relationship with the Sky team.

Currently in post for Sky is David Green’s drama “Breathtaking,” with Joanne Whalley and Lorraine Pilkington, as well as Dudi Appleton’s comedy “The Most Fertile Man in Ireland,” starring James Nesbitt.

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