Contender Films takes on 'Mr. Nice'

Rhys Ifans attached to star as Howard Marks

CANNES -- Entertainment One-owned British distributor Contender Films has shaken hands with Bernard Rose's "Mr. Nice," taking U.K. rights, while the company's Montreal-based Seville Pictures has done the same for Canada. Both deals were struck with London-based production, sales and financier Independent here in Cannes.

Independent's Luc Roeg is producing the film, with the company also handling worldwide sales.

Rhys Ifans is attached to play the lead role in the picture, which is based on the autobiography "Mr. Nice" by Howard Marks and directed by Bernard Rose.

Dope dealer Marks was one of Britain's most wanted men and throughout the 1980's had 43 aliases, 89 phone lines and 25 companies trading throughout the world. After many years and a worldwide operation by the Drug Enforcement Agency, he was busted and served seven years in America's toughest penitentiary. The film is scheduled to go into production at the end of this year.

The deal was negotiated by Independent sales chief Abigail Walsh and managing director Andrew Orr with Contender Films director Alex Hamilton and its acquisitions manager Jo Sweby.