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UGC raising Armstrong’s $35 mil ‘Painted Veil’ pic

Kidman, Norton to topline

UGC Intl. is lifting “The Painted Veil.” The 3-year-old Paris-based production and sales outfit has committed to Gillian Armstrong’s $35 million project — among its most expensive since the company was reformed in 1997.

Nicole Kidman and Edward Norton will topline the movie, set to begin lensing in the fall, based on a script by Academy Award-winning scribe Ron Nyswaner (“Philadelphia”). Pic will be produced with Jean-Francois Fonlupt’s Emotion Pictures and Sara Colleton. Fonlupt recently produced the Nick Nolte-Sharon Stone starrer “Simpatico” with Le Studio Canal Plus.

Story begins in London in 1922 with Kidman’s Kitty Garstin marrying a buttoned-up scientist (Norton) in order to escape the constraints of her family. The couple move to Hong Kong, where Kitty begins an affair with the local playboy. When her husband learns of the peccadillo, he takes her to a remote village where she begins a journey of self-discovery.

The notoriously press-shy UGC wasn’t commenting, but a sale to a U.S. major looks imminent, and it is known that a sale to Japan has been finalized. Prior to “Painted Veil,” UGC’s biggest English-lingo outing was as sales agent for the $35 million Tim Robbins-directed “Cradle Will Rock,” which the company handled for Touchstone Pictures.