Par building int'l relations

In MTV Films Europe prod'n deal

Paramount Pictures International said Monday that it is kicking off an "aggressive and ambitious" strategy of international acquisitions and local co-production pacts with a first-look production deal with MTV Films Europe.

The pact, unveiled at the operation's glittering launch here Monday night, will see PPI work with MTV Films in London on film projects. The length of the deal and financial details were not available at press time.

PPI president Andrew Cripps said the pact is designed to kick-start strategy and help reinforce product flow in local markets.

The deal was struck with MTV Films Europe topper Jonathan Zilli and business partner Bobby Allen, who run the label under license from Paramount parent Viacom.

Cripps also said PPI had snapped up U.K., Spanish and French rights to Bille August's much-anticipated depiction of Nelson Mandela's incarceration in "Goodbye Bafana."

Paramount studio chairman and CEO Brad Grey said he believes strongly in growing the overseas arm of the studio and that co-production and acquisitions will play a central role in that ambition.

He added that a close working relationship between Paramount and such other Viacom family units as Nickelodeon and DreamWorks is central to the studio's plans.

Paramount lot producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura followed Grey onto the podium to extol the new philosophy at the studio.

"The cookie-cutter process of filmmaking in Hollywood has reached new heights, but Paramount is one of the few studios to not do that," di Bonaventura said.

He introduced footage from "Transformers," "Shooter" and "Stardust" before explaining that the diversity in the three pictures on display represented Paramount's filmmaking ambitions.

"Stardust" director Matthew Vaughn drew wry smiles from the audience when he asked how many times Brits had heard that a studio wanted to back talent and efforts in the U.K.

"I am very grateful to Paramount and sincerely believe it means it when it says it wants to back movies here," Vaughn said.