Pas deux for Sony, Altman

Campbell starrer 'Company' gets distrib'n

Sony Pictures Classics has come on board as domestic distributor of the Robert Altman film “The Company.” Pic, an inside look at the world of ballet, is set to go before cameras in Chicago on Oct. 21.

Pic, announced just before Cannes, was in search of financing until recently when Cinetic Media and ICM hooked in German production shingle and film fund manager CP Medien, which will partner in the venture with Munich-based S.R.O. Entertainment.

Killer Films’ Pamela Koffler and Christine Vachon will produce, along with Altman’s Sandcastle 5 Prods. and Neve Campbell.

Campbell, who will co-star with Malcolm McDowell and James Franco, brought the idea for the project to “Pollack” scribe Barbara Turner. Killer’s Jocelyn Hayes worked with Turner, and Campbell is developing the script. British shingle Capitol Films will handle foreign distribution and serve as exec producers.

“The Company” is an inside look at the world of ballet. With the complete cooperation of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Altman will follow the stories of the dancers, whose professional and personal lives grow impossibly close, as they cope with the demands of a life in the ballet.

Campbell will play a gifted but conflicted company member on the verge of becoming a principal dancer at a fictional Chicago troupe, with McDowell the company’s co-founder and artistic director, considered one of America’s most exciting choreographers. Franco plays Campbell’s b.f. and one of the few characters not involved in the world of dance.

“I’m thrilled to be going into territory that I have never explored before,” Altman told Daily Variety. He was meeting with members of the Joffrey Monday in Chicago.

Koffler said, “Bob (Altman) was the ideal person to direct this film. I’m not sure what we would have done if he had said no.”

S.R.O. was recently established by Stefan Jonas, head of visual effects group Das Werk, American writer-director Jonas McCord (“The Body”) and Hans Schoedel.

“You couldn’t hope for a better start to a new partnership with S.R.O. Entertainment,” said CP Medien topper Roland Pellegrino.

CP Medien is putting up the lion’s share of the financing through its fourth MBF fund, launched in 2000. The fund has also backed Mandalay’s “Enemy at the Gates” and “The Score,” as well as French hit “Asterix & Obelix vs. Cleopatra.”

CP Medien’s business has not been affected by the German finance ministry’s revamp of laws regulating media funds as tax shelters. Company’s fund is run as an investment-for-profit enterprise that does not offer tax breaks. CP Medien reinvests profits from its funds into new film projects for up to six years.

Gotham-based Killer, which recently struck a first-look pact with Warner Bros., produced the Todd Haynes pic “Far From Heaven,” which garnered star Julianne Moore top actress kudos at the Venice Film Festival.

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