‘Darker Saints’ blesses Elliot

Palau gets first-look deal with In-Motion

LONDON — Director Stephan Elliott has committed to helm Tony Kayden’s “Darker Saints,” with London-based IAC Film, London media conglom Hit and Run Prods. and Canada’s TVA Intl. co-financing the $15 million film. Pic makes its market debut at the London Screenings, which began here Monday.

No cast is set, though film is in pre-production and lensing is expected to begin before Christmas. Hit and Run Prods.’ Tony Smith and Hilary Shore are producing. Lensing will take place in New Orleans and Toronto. Elliott reshaped the script along with Kayden.

“Darker Saints,” a thriller set primarily in the underbelly of New Orleans, centers on a female anthropologist who helps the local police department find the murderer of her twin sister, a hooker.

Primarily known for its record division, Hit and Run produced Elliott’s previous effort, “Eye of the Beholder,” starring Ewan McGregor and Ashley Judd. Pic was distributed in the U.S. by Destination Films. Elliott’s credits include “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and “Welcome to Woop Woop.”

Elliott is repped by the William Morris Agency and managed by Hit and Run Prods.

Palau lands pact

Also revealed at the London Screenings: Julia Palau, longtime chairman of sales and finance company J&M Entertainment, has landed a three-year, first-look deal with German media company In-Motion, which is traded on the Neuer Markt.

Palau’s new company does not yet have a name or a release slate. J&M was recently purchased by In-Motion, which merged with Myriad Pictures. J&M repped titles such as “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” and “House on Haunted Hill.”

Zentropa snatches ‘Scratch’

Meanwhile, Los Angeles and Copenhagen-based Zentropa Films has sold U.S. distribution rights to “Scratch” to Robbie Little’s First Look Pictures. Pic, to begin lensing in January, will be produced by Thomas Mai (“Possessed”) and directed and penned by Cecilla Miniucchi (“Selena Remembered”). Harvey Keitel, Lesley Ann Warren, Valerie Golino and Stefano Dionisi star.

Budgeted at under $4 million, “Scratch” is an ensemble comedy set in San Francisco in which a passing chicken views and comments upon intersecting lives. Zentropa acquired the script at the AFM earlier this year.

Other deals

Also making news here: Summit Entertainment acquired international distribution rights to the Chinese film “The Legend of Zu” from Distant Horizon. Pic features martial arts from the choreographer of “The Matrix” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Yuen Wo Ping. Directed by Tsui Hark (“Once Upon a Time in China”), “Legend” toplines “Crouching Tiger” lead Zhang Zi Yi. The film’s now in post.

Italian distribution and production company Lucky Red has picked up rights to Daniel Minahan’s “Series 7” from Good Machine Intl., and, as expected, Screen Gems has acquired all North American rights to Lakeshore Entertainment’s “The Mothman Prophecies,” to star Richard Gere and lense early next year in the Pittsburgh area with Mark Pellington (“Arlington Road”) helming.

(Adam Dawtrey and Dana Harris contributed to this report.)