Optimum Releasing, Big Talk ink pact

Pact includes Film4, Channel 4's standalone filmmaking unit

LONDON -- Studio Canal-owned U.K. indie distributor Optimum Releasing has joined up with British production label Big Talk, the team behind movies including "Shaun Of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz," sealing a co-financing and co-production pact, the duo said Thursday.

The pact also brings Film4, U.K. broadcaster Channel 4's standalone filmmaking unit, into the fray through Big Talk's partial first look deal that has run for the last two years.

Film4 said it has extended its existing deal for a further two years with Big Talk to join the pact.

Joe Cornish's directorial debut "Attack The Block," which will debut to buyers at next week's American Film Market via Studio Canal's sales arm, will be first out of the new look pact between the three.

Developed by Big Talk as part of their deal with Film4 and the U.K. Film Council, Cornish's screenplay is the story of a gang of South London teenagers defending their tower block against an alien attack. It is expected to start shooting in February next year.

Producers are Nira Park and James Wilson, with Edgar Wright, Matthew Justice, Tessa Ross, Will Clarke and Jenny Borgars as executive producers.

Through the deal, Optimum will contribute to Big Talk's overhead costs and its development budget as well as a commitment to co-finance and co-produce projects over an initial two-year period, with Film4 extending its first look deal with Big Talk enabling them to do the same.

Studio Canal will handle international sales on the titles, and the films will be distributed directly through its divisions Optimum in the U.K., Studio Canal in France and Kinowelt in Germany. Film4 will take its customary U.K. TV and associated rights.

Building on the new arrangement, Big Talk has bolstered its development team by hiring Rachael Prior from Working Title as head of development (Film).

"We have enjoyed a fantastic relationship with Working Title over the past seven years, and that will of course continue across a number of projects, but this deal will help us on the way to realizing our ambitions and those of the talent we are lucky enough to be working with," said Park.

Clarke said he and the team at Optimum are delighted to have sealed a deal with both Big Talk and Film4.

Film4 chief Tessa Ross said, "Film4 is excited to be extending its very productive relationships with both Big Talk and Optimum within this new partnership and look forward to working together on what already feels like an outstanding slate of films with 'Attack the Block' brilliantly leading the way."