Pathe ‘Cuts’ deal with Campion

Moore adaptation budgeted at $25 mil-$30 mil

CANNES — France’s Pathe is coming on board to fully finance Jane Campion’s erotic drama “In the Cut,” with Nicole Kidman attached to star.

The New York-set project, budgeted at $25 million-$30 million, was put into turnaround two months ago by its previously announced co-financiers, Universal Pictures and Miramax Films.

The pic could be shot in New York this winter, according to Pierre Rissient, the Pathe Image production exec who brought the project into the company.

Rissient’s relationship with Campion dates back to his involvement in “The Piano.” Although his name does not appear on the credits of that pic, he is widely credited with overseeing the project for financier Ciby 2000, having “discovered” Campion and brought her short films to the Cannes Film Festival in the late 1980s.

The deal was brokered by CAA’s Emanuel Nunez for Kidman and Francois Ivernel for Pathe. Pathe Intl. will handle worldwide sales.

“In the Cut” is based on Susanna Moore’s novel, which was originally optioned by Kidman back in 1996 out of her own pocket. Before setting it up at Miramax/U, Kidman also funded development of the pic for two years. Campion, who worked with Kidman on “The Portrait of a Lady,” has penned the adaptation based on Moore’s first draft.

Laurie Parker (“My Own Private Idaho”) will produce. Kidman has the right to take a producer credit, though it is unclear whether she will do so.

She will play a university professor who embarks on a dangerous affair with a police detective after a woman is murdered in her neighborhood.

Compared with the blood-spattered novel, Campion’s script will be more “darkly romantic,” Rissient said. He said Kidman’s role would be one of “the deepest, richest and most challenging” she has tackled.

It is understood that Universal and Miramax stepped away from the project because they saw it more as a dark thriller in the vein of “Seven,” whereas Campion was more interested in the erotic aspects.

The film will feature three other central roles, one femme and two men, which have yet to be cast.

Pathe Image, one of the French film company Pathe’s production arms, has two other projects in development.

The first is a new English-language adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s novel “The Lady of the Lake,” which Pathe is developing with U.S. producers Elliot Kastner and Jerry Bick.

Pathe Image also is developing the Australian director Rolf de Harr’s $6 million-$8 million “Unidentified Small Bones,” which will be shot in Australia. Rissient described the project as a “very sarcastic erotic comedy.”

(Alison James contributed to this report.)