Banner days for DiCaprio

Actor heads into dealmaking turf as producer

Leonardo DiCaprio may be young, but he’s already showing the tenacity and passion of a seasoned producer, qualities he’ll need as he wends his way through the dealmaking circuit.

DiCaprio, who’s shown a cineaste’s love of movies and a dedication to championing passion projects, was slated to arrive May 19 at the Cannes Film Fest to promote his environmentally minded doc “The 11th Hour,” which he narrated and produced through his Appian Way shingle.

He can walk the red carpet confidently, knowing that the film recently nabbed a distribution deal with Warner Independent Pictures in the U.S. and Warner Bros. Intl. overseas.

Still on the market, though, is the gritty drama “Gardener of Eden,” produced by DiCaprio and directed by longtime friend and “Entourage” star Kevin Connolly.

Feature, which made its worldwide bow at the Tribeca Film Fest, still doesn’t have domestic distribution.

A star like DiCaprio can probably go to the head of any line he wants. But when it comes to producing, not even Leo can snap his fingers and make a deal materialize. (Those who know him say he wouldn’t want that sort of special treatment, anyway.)

Graham King‘s Initial Entertainment Group will be selling “Gardener” at Cannes. King and DiCaprio have a close relationship, having made a number of films together, including “The Departed” and “The Aviator.”

“Gardener” is a milestone of sorts for DiCaprio’s Appian Way banner, the first feature on which Appian has been the lead producer. Storyline revolves around a down-and-out young man who stops a serial rapist then decides to become a heroic vigilante, with unintended consequences.

Film is dark in tone, similar to “Half Nelson,” the indie drama that studio specialty arms initially shied away from, saying it was too difficult to market. ThinkFilm ending up buying that film, which performed strongly at the box office and earned star Ryan Gosling an Oscar nom.

Appian Way’s slate includes “The Wolf of Wall Street” (with DiCaprio starring) and “Conspiracy of Fools” at Warners, where the shingle has a first-look deal; and “Link” at Universal, to name a few.

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