Sony does the ‘Twist’

Kingsley-starring pic to be released in 2005

This article was updated on May 4, 2004.

Sony Pictures has acquired North and South American distribution rights to Roman Polanski’s “Oliver Twist.”

New version of the Charles Dickens tale, about an orphan who falls under the influence of a band of thieves, is set in 19th-century London. Ronald Harwood penned the screenplay.

Harwood and Polanski won Oscars in 2003 for their collaboration on “The Pianist,” which was produced by Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde. Benmussa and Sarde will again tean to produce “Twist.”

Ben Kingsley will portray Fagin and 10-year-old British actor Barney Clark will star as Oliver. Jamie Foreman and Frank Finlay were recently added to the cast.

Tale has been remade numerous times as both a telepic and a theatrical release, notably in 1968, when director Carol Reed’s musical “Oliver!” was released, and in 1948 by David Lean.

“Twist” is being financed by France’s RP Prods., Italy’s Medusa, the U.K.’s Runteam and the Czech Republic’s Etic. ICM put together the complicated financing package and repped RP Prods., Polanski and Harwood in the deal.

Pic lenses in Prague at the Barrandov Studios beginning in July. Sony will release it in 2005. Pathe is distributing in France and the U.K.; Tobis will handle Germany, while Toshiba takes Japan and Filmax will take Spain.

Pickup was announced Monday by Jeff Blake, vice chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and prexy of worldwide marketing and distribution for the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group.