New Dimension to ‘Grimm’ distrib’n

Lion bows out due to heavy int'l release slate

Dimension Films is going it alone on “The Brothers Grimm.”

The dark fairytale update went into production last summer with Dimension and MGM splitting costs and territories. However, the Miramax sister division now is understood to be handling worldwide distribution alone on the pic after MGM backed out; latter retains only a small equity investment in the film.

Assembled under a longstanding MGM/Miramax multipic co-financing pact, “Grimm” marks the second time the Weinsteins have been forced to go solo on a big-budget pic following the studio’s abrupt exit. MGM was at one time a partner with Miramax on “Cold Mountain,” but subsequently backed away from the production, leaving Miramax to bear the considerable financial exposure alone.

“Grimm,” helmed by Terry Gilliam and starring Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Jonathan Pryce and Monica Bellucci, originally was developed at MGM, with Mosaic Media’s Charles Roven producing with Daniel Bobker. Dimension came on board to co-finance and produce pic with MGM and to handle domestic distribution in March 2003.

“There’s huge interest in this film,” said Miramax chief operating officer Rick Sands. “Terry Gilliam is a visionary and, with the cast he has assembled, we think the movie will be a hit for our international buyers.”

Production is said to cost $75 million, although some say the budget easily could be $10 million more than that.

Pic’s troubled shoot involved what some have called a titanic battle between filmmaker Gilliam and Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein. Dimension’s Bob Weinstein eventually replaced the first cinematographer on pic.

Sources indicated MGM decided not to exercise its option to pick up international distribution rights while the movie was in post. MGM is understood to retain a financial participation in the movie and is expected to be a first-dollar gross participant in pic’s receipts. All marketing and distribution, however, will be handled by Dimension.

MGM is understood to have reached the decision on “Grimm” in part due to its heavy international release slate next year in which the studio will unveil “The Amityville Horror,” the “Get Shorty” sequel “Be Cool,” a remake of “The Pink Panther,” “Into the Blue” and the latest installment in the James Bond series.

Gilliam is expected to arrive in Cannes today and will be present at the Miramax luncheon at the Majestic. Miramax is also expected to have a trailer of “Grimm” to show international distribs.

Dimension has scheduled a November release date.

Miramax also has sold international rights to “Grimm” to Toshiba Entertainment in Japan, Nordisk Film in Scandinavia, West Film in Russia, Mongkol Film in Thailand and Film Pop in Turkey. All remaining international territories are being sold during the Cannes Film Festival.