'Citizen' solid with Overture


Overture and the Film Dept. could be the latest mini-major and production company to hook up.

The Liberty Media production and distribution company has finalized an agreement to release "Law Abiding Citizen" from Mark Gill and Neil Sacker's Film Dept., and the two outfits are in talks for a broader distribution pact that would put a number of Film Dept. titles into the Overture pipeline.

Details are still being hammered out, but if terms can be reached, a pact would allow Film Dept. titles to capitalize on the full range of Overture platforms, including its theatrical releasing arm, home video label Anchor Bay and a TV output deal with Overture sister company Starz.

"Citizen" is an F. Gary Gray-directed crime drama starring Gerard Butler and Jamie Foxx.

The Film Dept. is shooting "Citizen" in Philadelphia. Overture has released a number of crime dramas in the past year, including "Righteous Kill" and "Traitor."

For the Film Dept., such a deal would provide distribution at a time when the festival and finished-film market for small- and midrange-budgeted titles is rockier than ever before.

A deal also would benefit Overture, helping it beef up its slate. The company has been building its roster with a mixture of acquisitions and productions, but a Film Dept. deal would give it access to titles including the Catherine Zeta-Jones romantic comedy "The Rebound" and Nick Cassavetes' F. Scott-Zelda Fitzgerald biopic "The Beautiful and the Damned." Neither company would comment on talks regarding an overall agreement.

Industrywide, self-financed producers and newer distributors have been exploring partnerships that would increase their clout and ability to compete with the major Hollywood studios.

The Overture-Film Dept. talks follow a deal last week between Summit and Participant Media, with that production banner gaining a number of slots on the distributor's release slate and an infrastructure for co-financing and co-productions.

Industrywide, as the foreign-sales market dries up and domestic distribution becomes ever-trickier — and with the cost of production going up for financiers — combinations among outfits with different specialties have become more appealing. (partialdiff)