German media fund VIP 3, which has raised Euros 170m from private German investors to date this year, is to co-produce new features by Penny Marshall and Gregory Hoblit.

The fund will serve as a production partner with Chris Sievernich's Armada Pictures International on Penny Marshall's comedy Family Of The Year which is scheduled to star Danny De Vito, Ray Liotta, Edie Flaco and Famke Janssen. The absurd comedy in the style of John Irving's novels will go into production at locations in Florida from early 2004.

Meanwhile, Hoblit is in preproduction on the biopic Emperor Zehnder which will star Richard Gere as the internationally famous wildlife photographer Bruno Zehnder to be shot at original locations in the Antarctic as well as New York and Canada. Disney will distribute the drama which has been written by Daniel Barnz and Ned Zeman and will be executive produced by Jake Eberts.

2003 has already seen the VIP 3 fund teaming up with Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney's production outfit Section 8 to finance John Maybury's thriller The Jacket, starring Oscar-winning actor Adrien Brody. It has also backed Artisan Pictures on Jonathan Hensleigh's Marvel comic adaptation The Punisher, featuring Thomas Jane, John Travolta, Rebecca Romijn Stamos and Laura Harring; and with MDP Worldwide on Mike Binder's family drama The Upside Of Danger, starring Kevin Costner.

In addition, VIP 3 boarded Tandem Communications' Euros 20m production of Uli Edel's The Ring, based on the German Nibelungen saga and with a cast that includes Benno Fuermann, Mavie Hoerbiger, Kristina Loken and Samuel West. It was also partner with Zipfelmuetzen Film, Universal Pictures, MMC Independent, and Rialto Film on the German language comedy Sieben Zwerge - Maenner Allein Im Wald.