Sony signs first-look deal with MARV Films


Sony Pictures has inked a three-year, first-look deal with Matthew Vaughn and Kris Thykier's U.K.-based MARV Films as part of the studio's international production initiative.

MARV was founded by director-producer Vaughn in 2003 as a successor to his and Guy Ritchie's Ska Films. Vaughn produced such films as "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," "Snatch" and "Mean Machine" before making his feature directorial debut on "Layer Cake."

MARV is in postproduction on the epic fairy tale romance "Stardust," which was directed, produced and co-written by Vaughn and stars Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes.

"We've had a really good relationship with Sony ever since 'Snatch,' which was too long ago to admit to," Vaughn said. "Working Title has had their fair share of everything British. Let's just say there's room for another company to make British films for international audiences."

MARV is developing a World War I drama, two comedies and a Spaghetti Western.

"I'll be disappointed if we're not making two films a year, if not three," Vaughn added.

The deal marks SPE's continued efforts to beef up its stand-alone, local-language production units throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America, which has spawned such international hits as "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Snatch" and "Kung Fu Hustle." Just weeks ago, SPE launched its international motion picture production department headed by Gareth Wigan and Deborah Schindler (HR 5/1).

"We've been fans of Matthew since we worked with him on 'Snatch' and 'Layer Cake,' " said Wigan, vice chairman of Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group. "Through this deal, we look forward to producing appropriately budgeted British films with Matthew for distribution in the U.K., internationally and where appropriate, in the United States."

Similarly, Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia and Stephen Chow's Star Overseas recently teamed up on a multifeature production collaboration (HR 5/22). The two companies agreed to team up on a series of niche films featuring new and emerging Asian talent both above and below the line.

"Sony Pictures has recognized its role as a global company," said Schindler, president of international motion picture production. "The purpose of the international motion picture division is to extend our overseas reach to identify the next generation of artists with stories to tell, and the films that Matthew and Kris want to make are just what we're looking for."