Sales erupt on Summit's 'Pompeii'

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CANNES -- Summit Entertainment has closed multiple presales on Roman Polanski's "Pompeii" after negotiating a co-production and financing deal for the project with Germany's leading independent Constantin Film in Germany.

As previously reported, Constantin Film was the first to board the big-budget epic, an adaptation of Robert Harris' best-selling novel set in the final days of the ancient Roman city before Mount Vesuvius erupted, covering it volcanic ash for centuries (HR 5/21).

Under the agreement set up with Summit, Constantin, together with R.P. Prods. in France and Antena 3 Television's Ensueno Films in Spain will finance and co-produce "Pompeii."

The deal, announced in Cannes Tuesday, will allow "Pompeii" to go ahead without a U.S. distribution deal in place.

Casting is under way on the big-budget production. Polanski is in preproduction on the feature and plans to begin principle photography late this year or in early 2008 in Alicante, Spain.

Worldwide theatrical release is planned for 2009.

Polanski will produce "Pompeii" together with Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde, the trio that produced Oscar- and Palme d'Or winner "The Pianist."

Billed by some as "Chinatown" in ancient Rome, "Pompeii" is set in the summer of 79 AD. The film follows a young aqueduct engineer who gets entwined in a conspiracy involving the supply of water to the city and leads up to the fatal eruption.

Patrick Wachsberger, chairman of Summit Entertainment, Robert Hayward, COO of Summit Entertainment and David Garrett, president of Summit International negotiated the terms of the deal together with Fred Kogel, chairman of Constantin Film and Teddy Villalba for Ensueno.

Summit has also sold "Pompeii" RAI/01 in Italy, Pathe in France and SPI in Eastern Europe.
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