Hyde grabs Brass ring

Partnership to produce 3-4 pix a year

Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment has teamed with U.K. funds manager the Brass Hat Group in an exclusive partnership that will bring the producer of “Bringing Down the House” about $400 million in production funds over the next five years.

Headed by CEO Nick Hamson, the Brass Hat Group has raised more than $200 million over the last five years for films such as Warner Bros. Pictures’ “The Phantom of the Opera,” directed by Joel Schumacher; Sony Pictures Classics’ “Head in the Clouds,” starring Charlize Theron; and Avenue Pictures’ “The Merchant of Venice,” which stars Al Pacino.

First title under the Hyde Park-Brass Hat arrangement will be heist comedy “Monkeyface,” with Richard Gere attached to star.

The partnership plans to produce three to four pics a year, with budgets ranging from $20 million to $80 million. Hyde Park and Brass Hat will maintain offices in Los Angeles and London.

Some but not all of the partnership’s films will be produced to conform with British content requirements. The productions will tap into Hyde Park’s domestic deals with MGM and Walt Disney Studios as well as its pan-European distribution deal with media consortium Epsilon.

Hyde Park also will continue its ongoing relationship with Bennett Pozil, group manager of Natexis Banque Populaires.

Hyde Park and Brass Hat have already teamed on the upcoming “Shopgirl,” which Steve Martin adapted from his novel for director Anand Tucker. Martin and Clare Danes star in the pic, to be released through Disney this fall.

“Monkeyface” was originally slated to star Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, with Stephen Frears directing. Franchise Films was to produce the pic and distribute it through Warner Bros. Pictures, but the project fell apart when Douglas and Zeta-Jones left the project.

U.K.-based producers Mark Shorrock and David Kennaway, who spent several years developing the script with scribe David Harris, will produce the film with Amritraj and Hyde Park president Jon Jashni, who oversees development on all of the shingle’s titles. Project is now out to directors, with plans for a January start.

“This alliance with Brass Hat makes both parties stronger by harnessing our respective strengths,” Amritraj said. “It also means that, by dovetailing our Epsilon output deal and our banking relationship with Natexis, we can readily access a whole new set of financing options for our films.”

Amritraj produced “Walking Tall,” “Raising Helen,” “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Bandits.”

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