IEG pacts with Zeta Films

Groups to co-produce pics

Initial Entertainment Group, the company behind the Martin Scorsese-Leonardo DiCaprio pic “Gangs of New York,” has signed a two-year exclusive production deal with Zeta Films, Catherine Zeta-Jones’ new production shingle to be based in Los Angeles.

Under terms of the pact, IEG will finance and co-produce with Zeta Films roughly two to six pics a year for theatrical release, with budgets ranging from $5 million to $50 million. IEG will retain and handle worldwide rights to the films.

The move marks the femme star’s first foray into production after starring in “Entrapment,” “The Mask of Zorro” and “The Haunting.”

Based out of IEG’s Beverly Hills offices, Zeta Films will be run by Zeta-Jones and her brother Lyndon Jones, who will acquire and develop material in conjunction with IEG.

Another brother, David A. Jones, is IEG’s veep of creative affairs; that connection helped solidify the deal.

An indie finance, production and distribution company, IEG is partnered with Germany’s leading film licensee, Splendid Films.

For IEG, adding the Jones shingle potentially reps a significant contribution to the company, which last fall slashed its acquisitions staff.

On closing the deal, Zeta-Jones said, “IEG has assembled a great work force and I respect them, both on a business level and a creative level. I look forward to being part of the team.”

Zeta-Jones recently completed Stephen Frears’ “High Fidelity,” starring John Cusack.

IEG is currently co-financing Robert Altman’s “Dr. T and the Women,” for which it has already licensed all distribution rights.

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