Hackford's 'Ranch' finally gets release date

8:00 PM PST 04/05/2010 by Alex Ben Block, AP

THR EXCLUSIVE

After months on the shelf because of legal and financial issues, Taylor Hackford's "Love Ranch," starring his wife Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci, finally will feel the love of a limited U.S. release in June.

The drama will be distributed by Canadian company E1 Entertainment, which has an agreement in principle to partner on domestic marketing costs with Aramid Entertainment Fund. E1 also acquired rights for the U.K., Scandinavia, France, Australia and elsewhere, and it will sell other foreign rights next month at Cannes.

The June release is expected to be in a handful of theaters in seven to 10 North American cities, including New York and Los Angeles. If the movie gets positive reviews and does good business, the release would be expanded.

Hackford, Mirren and Pesci are expected to do promotional work for the film, which was inspired by the real-life story of Joe and Sally Conforte, who in 1971 opened Mustang Ranch, the first legalized house of prostitution in Nevada.

The pic is from an original screenplay from Mark Jacobson, who was a writer for New York Magazine.

This will be the second time "Love Ranch" has been marketed globally. It was presold by Capitol Films, which financed the production for more than $20 million, according to estimates. Capitol was acquired by David Bergstein and Ron Tutor, who beginning in spring 2008 borrowed about $8.8 million from Aramid using "Love Ranch" as collateral.

Aramid said in a lawsuit filed against Bergstein and Tutor last month in Los Angeles that it also put in an additional $1.94 million to complete the movie in postproduction and for other costs.

Bergstein and Tutor failed to make the payments on the loans, and Aramid foreclosed on "Love Ranch" and another movie, acquiring the films in December 2008.

One result of the foreclosure sale was that international distributors who acquired rights to "Love Ranch" from Capitol, in some cases paying cash advances, lost rights to the movie, which is why E1 will be able to resell it worldwide.

A spokesman for Aramid declined comment, no one at E1 could be reached for comment, and Hackford did not return a call seeking comment.
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