Alfonso Arau's $16m remake of The Magnificent Ambersons, a project which began life as a mini-series when it went into production this year, has now been transformed into a full-fledged feature film as part of a push into the theatrical business by its European backer, The De Angelis Group.

Former RKO executive Art Horan has been hired by De Angelis to spearhead the initiative that aims to produce up to four features a year with budgets in the $5m-$25m range. Financing is to come from a newly hatched alliance between TV production outfit De Angelis and German fund Victory Media Group.

RKO was the studio that made Orson Welles controversial classic that is now inspiring Arau's reworking. The new version of the film stars Madeleine Stowe, Gretchen Moll, Jennifer Tilly and James Cromwell and is currently shooting in Ireland. The project switched direction and became a theatrical feature on the strength of buyer interest in the project

"We have been looking to expand into the theatrical motion picture business. The time is right to capitalise on the resources available through our co-production partners," explained president, Guido De Angelis.

The company will seek studio-level distribution partners for the US and is considering other European tie-ups. "Now that the European market constitutes a larger share of the financing of motion picture product I expect to bridge the gap with US distributors, talent and producing partners," said Horan.

The deal with Victory, which has accumulated media funding to the tune of $150m (DM350m), sees Victory come on board as a co-producer of all De Angelis' live action fare from film to mini-series and TV productions.

Horan, who took an executive producer credit on The Usual Suspects, was responsible for a deal with Miramax's Dimension label that will deliver up to eleven pictures based on material from RKO's library.

De Angelis, which has offices in Rome, Munich and Amsterdam, currently specialises in the production of English- and Italian-language event programming. It has assembled more than $200m of its own production finance in place.