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‘Wimbledon’ takes Inside Track

The Working Title movie “Wimbledon,” directed by Richard Loncraine, has become the biggest project so far to get backing from Inside Track, the innovative film production fund launched last fall by tax financier Ingenious Media.

“Wimbledon,” a romantic comedy about tennis starring Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany, is one of eight movies into which Inside Track invested just over £30 million ($49 million) by April 5, the end of the last British tax year.

The other pics include five from Pathe — “Suzy Gold,” “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” “Churchill — The Hollywood Years,” “Millions” and “Natural History” — as well as Mel Smith‘s “Blackball” and Mike Leigh‘s “Untitled ’03.”

These eight movies have a total budget of $137 million, with Inside Track’s equity investment covering a standard 35% of each. In addition, Ingenious provides a sale-and-leaseback deal, bringing the company’s total contribution to 47%.

The budget for “Wimbledon,” which starts shooting in June, is in the $35 million range. Miramax’s Dimension label has taken a one-third equity stake, leaving Working Title’s parent studio Universal with worldwide distribution for a relatively small financial risk.

Inside Track has already committed to three more movies in the current tax year — Edgar Wright‘s “Shaun of the Dead” from WT2, Mira Nair‘s “Vanity Fair” from Focus Features and Gurinder Chadha‘s “Pride and Prejudice — The Bollywood Musical” from Pathe.

Inside Track is based upon the groundbreaking concept of using standard accounting principles to provide a tax benefit to its investors, instead of relying on film-specific tax breaks.

Separately, Ingenious continues to offer conventional sales and leaseback deals (typically worth around 12% of budgets) using Section 48 and Section 42 tax breaks. It provided S&L funding for movies with budgets totaling $800 million last year, making it the U.K.’s biggest S&L player by a distance.

Granada, Redbus shake hands over “Gathering”

Granada and Redbus Film Distribution have called it quits in their legal duel over Brian Gilbert‘s chiller “The Gathering,” allowing both sides to walk away with their sense of honor intact.

In an out-of-court settlement, Granada, the pic’s financier, has reimbursed an undisclosed sum to Redbus, covering part of the £240,000 ($390,000) deposit paid by the distrib for the U.K. rights to the film.

Redbus (then known as Helkon SK) withdrew from its U.K. distribution deal during the pic’s production, alleging that one of the three producers, Peter Samuelson, had not fulfilled his contractual role. Granada subsequently re-sold the U.K. rights to Miramax. Redbus started legal action last September for the return of its deposit, prompting Granada to counter-sue for the full $1.3 million value of the original deal.

Granada has now dropped that suit and repaid what a company insider describes as “a very modest amount of money,” but clearly enough to give Redbus the satisfaction it was seeking.

“We have always had an excellent relationship with Granada, and were very sad that this complicated issue, which stemmed from a difference of view over the nature and degree of involvement required of the producers of ‘The Gathering,’ led to a dispute,” Redbus chief exec Simon Franks said.

“We and Granada remain of a different view. However we have reached a mutually acceptable settlement. This being the case, we feel vindicated in terminating our original agreement.”

A Granada spokesman said, “Granada and our co-financiers, Isle of Man DTI, DZ Bank and Ingenious Media, have no complaints whatsoever about the role played by the producers. We feel that (they) did an excellent job producing this ambitious film. We are very happy with the film and delighted that it is being distributed by Miramax.”

Knibbs on the move

It’s all very hush-hush, and none of the parties involved will comment, but Steve Knibbs, one of the U.K.’s most senior exhibition execs, is understood to be on his way from United Cinemas Intl. to join rival outfit Vue. Vue was created last month by SBC’s takeover of the Warner Village U.K. circuit. Knibbs, UCI’s longtime topper for Northern Europe and a board member of the U.K. Film Council, is currently on what sources describe variously as “sick leave” and “gardening leave” while the tricky transfer is negotiated.

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