New York-based Classic Media has sold all UK rights to BAFTA-winning Charles Sturridge's live-action Lassie project to Nigel and Trevor Green's Entertainment Film Distributors.
Francesca Barra and Selwyn Roberts, who co-founded Firstsight Films with Sturridge in 2001, will serve as producers while Classic's Schwalbe and chairman and chief executive officer Eric Ellenbogen will handle executive producer duties.
"Entertainment has done been an incredible job on the Lord Of The Rings trilogy and Elf," Barra said in a statement. "We look forward to working with Nigel and Trevor Green on what we believe will be another exciting and successful production."
Sturridge, who wrote and directed acclaimed TV dramas Shackleton and Longitude, is due to begin shooting his screenplay in September in the UK, based on Eric Knight's best-selling 1938 novel Lassie Come Home.
"It's a picaresque tale of adventure and landscape set in Britain before the second world war," Sturridge told ScreenDaily.com earlier this month. "The story tells of this hard-up family who are forced to sell their dog to a mine-owning family and the dog's subsequent attempts to escape and return home."
Classic Media is in talks with four studios for US rights as well as French, Spanish and Italian buyers.