Winchester picks up int’l on MGM con tale

'Heart' to beat o'seas with Weaver, Hewitt

Winchester Films has made a deal to handle international rights on MGM’s upcoming “Heartbreakers” starring Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt. Budgeted north of $50 million, the comedy is currently shooting on locations in Los Angeles and Florida. MGM plans a first-quarter 2001 release.

Winchester Films, the U.K.-based sales and distribution arm of the publicly traded Winchester Entertainment, will handle all foreign rights on the film. Film financier MM Media Capital Partners, which backs the $500 million production arrangement between Winchester and Chuck Gordon’s Daybreak Prods., also intends to support Winchester in the “Heartbreakers” deal.

Directed by David Mirkin (“Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion”), “Heartbreakers” is the story of a mother-daughter team of con artists who make their living swindling men. The film also stars Gene Hackman and Jason Lee. John Davis and Irving Ong produce, with Clayton Townsend serving as executive producer. Paul Guay and Stephen Mazur penned the script.

Splitting rights has virtually become corporate policy at MGM. The upcoming Richard Gere-Winona Ryder toplined “Autumn in New York” is being handled by Lakeshore Intl., Universal handles foreign on Ridley Scott’s “Hannibal,” John McTiernan’s “Rollerball” is repped overseas by Helkon Intl. by way of MGM’s co-production deal with Atlas Ent., and both Barry Levinson’s “Outlaws” and Peter Howitt’s “Anti-Trust” are co-productions with Hyde Park Entertainment.

The Angelina Jolie starrer “Original Sin” (aka “Dancing in the Dark”), however, is currently wholly owned by MGM after an intended split-rights deal with Intermedia failed to come to fruition.

Reda’s reach

Hadeel Reda was recently named president of Winchester Films and has also earned a seat on Winchester’s board. She joined Winchester two years ago as senior VP of production and acquisitions to set up the company’s U.S. office in Santa Monica and was later promoted to president of production and acquisitions.

Winchester Ent. Plc., headed by CEO Gary Smith, is traded on London’s AIM exchange.

Hal Sadoff, Myles Nestel and Rodney Payne’s MM Media Capital Partners has recently backed films such as the Joel Silver productions “Proximity” and “House on Haunted Hill” as well as Ron Shelton’s “Play It to the Bone,” which was released by Touchstone Pictures.

The “Heartbreakers” acquisition was negotiated by Reda and Smith for Winchester.

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