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VIVENDI, CANAL PLUS, OVITZ
IN FILM DEAL

Artists Production Group To Produce, Distribute Films In $900 Million Three-Year Deal
In a move designed to dive deeper into Hollywood, Vivendi's Canal Plus unveiled Thursday that it had signed a $900 million deal with Michael Ovitz's Artists Production Group to produce and distribute feature films for the international market.

The new venture, based at APG, will produce five films a year at budgets ranging from $30 million to $80 million over the next three years, according to widespread media reports.

Canal Plus will put up 60% of the budgets as well as a substantial development fund. Ovitz will obtain bank financing to cover the rest of the budgetary outlay.

Cathy Schulman will be in charge of production, while the venture will be headed by a management team made up equally of executives from both sides.

Not only does this deal instantly establish Ovitz's company as a major production entity, but it should provide a boost to his talent management business whose clients will no doubt figure prominently in the projects of the joint venture, according to Daily Variety.

Studio Canal will retain worldwide distribution rights, excluding North America where distribution will be decided on a picture-by-picture basis. Universal will not necessarily have first position for U.S. rights, despite its pending acquisition by Canal Plus parent Vivendi.

Ovitz is also understood to be in advanced talks with several other possible strategic partners who would help cover the fast-growing overhead of his parent company AMG.

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