Miramax, Scorsese gang up

Helmer signs five-year extension of first-look deal

CANNES — Miramax co-chairman Harvey Weinstein has frequently extolled the talents of Martin Scorsese — never more so than during the making of “Gangs of New York.” Miramax is co-financier and domestic distributor of the period epic, so the company’s near future is tied to the film’s fortunes.

Weinstein is now taking that commitment a step further, signing Scorsese to a five-year extension of his first-look deal with Miramax Films.

The arrangement will cover projects originating from both Miramax and Scorsese that the filmmaker will direct, produce and exec produce. The deal also provides overhead and development funds for Scorsese’s Cappa Films, which has more than 40 projects in development.

The accord, which includes a five-year, first-look pact with Scorsese’s producer, Barbara De Fina, is an extension of Miramax’s collaboration with Scorsese on “Gangs.” Pic recently wrapped principal photography at Rome’s Cinecitta and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Cameron Diaz and Daniel Day-Lewis.

Initial Entertainment Group, which paid $65 million to co-finance “Gangs” with Miramax in exchange for the foreign rights, had also vied for Scorsese’s hand.

The film is understood to cost well north of $100 million, with Miramax picking up any overages. It is tentatively skedded for release in December.

“That Marty would choose to make Miramax his creative home is everything that I have always wanted and imagined,” said Weinstein. “It goes without saying that he is one of the preeminent filmmakers of all times.”

As a company, Scorsese said, Miramax has “always been and continues to be on the cutting edge of the film industry. On a personal level, I have always found Harvey to be an innovator who knows and loves cinema, who is enthusiastic about movie history and is always open to learning more about film.”

A film scholar and a leading advocate for film preservation, Scorsese will be in Cannes on May 16 for the premiere of his documentary “Il Mio Viaggio in Italia” (My Journey in Italy).

Charles Layton, exec VP of the office of the co-chairman, and senior VP of business affairs Michael Luisi negotiated the deal on behalf of Miramax. Scorsese was represented by AMG and attorney Jake Bloom.