Hart Sharp has English beat

FilmFour pacts to jointly develop, produce three pics a year

FilmFour has closed a two-year, non-exclusive production pact with Gotham-based Hart Sharp Entertainment, the producers of such pics as “Boys Don’t Cry” and “You Can Count on Me.”

Deal will enable Hart Sharp and FilmFour to jointly develop, produce and finance roughly three pics a year with budgets north of $6 million, and pact provides the former with a substantial discretionary fund and overhead.

FilmFour will retain U.K. rights to the pics while acting as each films’ international sales agent outside North America. North American distribution will be secured on a project-by-project basis.

Through its True Film Fund, Hart Sharp will continue developing pics with budgets in the $2 million-$4 million range. FilmFour will have the option to invest in these films.

‘Bowery’-bound

Kicking off the pact is a film to be based on Sue Tilley’s book “Leigh Bowery: The Life and Times of an Icon,” which Jonathan Harvey (“Beautiful Thing”) is adapting. FilmFour’s deputy head of production, Elinor Day, is overseeing the project.

The alliance gives Los Angeles- and London-based FilmFour a presence in New York, where Hart Sharp has made its name finding and developing theater and literary properties to adapt for the screen.

Deal was initiated by FilmFour’s L.A.-based senior veep of production, Rebecca Yeldham, and Hart Sharp’s head of production, Robert Kessell. The execs will oversee all projects developed and produced under the initiative.

“Of all the companies that approached us, they are the one that most mirrored our attitude toward collaboration,” Hart Sharp partner John Hart told Daily Variety.

“We could not have hoped to pair up with a better bunch,” FilmFour chief executive Paul Webster said. “They have an exemplary track record, taste, vision, and a sixth sense about material and talent.”

“With FilmFour, one immediately enters a world of imagination and an unwavering commitment to creative talent,” said Jeff Sharp.

Founded in 1996, Hart Sharp’s mandate has been to finance, develop and produce film and theater.

Hart Sharp was a producer of Broadway revivals “Chicago” and “Annie Get Your Gun,” and recently optioned the film rights to David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Proof.”

Last year, shingle brought in vet exec Kessell, who had worked with Webster when he was at Miramax. In addition, they enlisted chief operating officer Michael Hogan, who created the company’s True Film Fund and helped negotiate the FilmFour pact.

Giving a ‘Lift’

Hart Sharp recently developed, financed and produced “Lift,” a 2001 Sundance Film Festival selection penned and directed by Demane Davis and Khari Streeter.

FilmFour is U.K. Channel 4’s wholly owned film company, which develops, produces, sells and distributes pics. Company, which has a three-year co-production alliance with Warner Bros. (Daily Variety, May 10), is making such pics as “Charlotte Gray,” directed by Gillian Anderson, starring Cate Blanchett and Billy Crudup, and “Death to Smoochy,” directed by Danny DeVito, starring Robin Williams, Edward Norton and Catherine Keener.

Among the shingle’s other projects are Thomas Vinterberg’s “It’s All About Love,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Claire Danes, which recently began lensing; “Lucky Break,” directed by Peter Cattaneo; and the Cannes Market screener “Crush,” directed by John McKay, and starring Andie MacDowell, Imelda Staunton and Anna Chancellor.

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