‘Dear’ season opens as Vinterberg corrals coin

Pic centers on a fascination with a gun named 'Wendy'

Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s “Dear Wendy” — the project he took over from fellow Dogma helmer Lars von Trier — took a step closer toward finding its $6 million budget, as the Danish Film Institute chipped in $1.2 million Thursday.

Von Trier’s script about the attraction of firearms, intended as his second installment in a trilogy on America and Americans after “Dancer in the Dark,” has finally seen a new draft by Vinterberg and Anders Thomas Jensen.

Set in the Midwest, the story focuses on an 18-year-old outsider named Dick who lives in a poor mining town. Although he’s the founder of a pacifist group named the Dandies — and obliged not to use weapons — he becomes fascinated by a .44 Magnum that he names Wendy.

Zentropa Entertainment (partly owned by von Trier) and Nimbus Film, which produced Vinterberg’s “Festen/The Celebration” and “It’s All About Love,” have set up Lucky Punch to release “Dear Wendy,” which will be produced by Sisse Graum Olsen, most recently credited on Lone Scherfig’s “Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself.”

Von Trier himself will compete at the upcoming Cannes Intl. Film Festival, where his Nicole Kidman starrer “Dogville” is his seventh official entry. “Dancer in the Dark” won the Palme d’Or in 2000.

Besides readying “Manderlay,” von Trier is preparing to stage Wagner’s “The Ring of the Niebelungs” for Bayreuth 2006.

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