Medusa nabs two titles

Italian distribber inks deal with Mandalay

ROME — Italian producer-distribber Medusa Film has pacted with Mandalay Pictures for a stake in two of the company’s major titles this season, “The Score” and “Beyond Borders,” laying the foundation for a new Italian alliance for Peter Guber’s Paramount-based company.

The deal between Medusa and Mandalay effectively replaces the beleaguered Cecchi Gori Group as Mandalay’s Italian partner. Cecchi Gori has recently been struggling to keep afloat in the face of massive debts.

Directed by Frank Oz, “The Score” stars Robert De Niro, Edward Norton and Marlon Brando in the story of a retired thief blackmailed back into the game by a young upstart. It starts shooting this month in Canada.

Due to shoot late this year, “Borders” is a romantic drama directed by Oliver Stone about international relief workers. It stars Kevin Costner and Meg Ryan.

Medusa, which is the film division of Silvio Berlusconi’s Fininvest group, has secured all Italian rights to the two pictures.

Extensive agreement

Giampaolo Letta, director of communications for Medusa, said: “Unlike a standard acquisition deal, in which rights are purchased for a limited period, this more extensive agreement gives Medusa permanent Italian rights to the titles, making them an important asset for the group’s library.”

Since the deal with Cecchi Gori concluded in January with the release of “Sleepy Hollow,” Mandalay has had no regular distribution channel for its films in Italy.

Letta confirmed that while the current deal covers only two pictures, Medusa is confident the agreement will extend to other titles in the future.

In addition to the Mandalay pact, Medusa firmed deals in Cannes for the acquisition of all Italian rights to two titles from Good Machine and USA Films.

These are the forthcoming noir thriller from Joel and Ethan Coen, currently known as “The Untitled Barber Project,” which stars Frances McDormand and Billy Bob Thornton; and the Michael Douglas-produced “One Night at McCool’s,” starring Douglas, Liv Tyler, Matt Dillon and John Goodman and directed by Harald Zwart.

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