Mark Gordon, the veteranproducer whose credits include Saving Private Ryan and The Patriot, is in final negotiations to sign a first-look deal with ColumbiaPictures, a deal which would involve Japanese major Toho-Towa which had backedGordon in his former venture Mutual Film Co.

Gordon, whose output dealwith Fox ended earlier this year, is in discussing a three-year agreement,under which Toho-Towa will finance all overheads relating to the term deal andgain distribution rights in Japan.

Gordon is currentlydeveloping an eclectic slate for Columbia, which features Brandon Camp and MikeThompson's thriller screenplay 911, The Last Apostlestarring Paul Walker, video game adaptation Return To Castle Wolfenstein, Sherlock Holmes And The Vengeance Of Dracula and an untitled Robert Rodat project.

"Mark is a prolific,commercial film-maker who is already developing a number of projects for thestudio," Columbia's president Peter Schlessel said in a statement.

"Matt Tolmach, DougBelgrad and I couldn't be more enthusiastic about the potential formaking great films together."

"I have had awonderful experience working with the creative team at Sony Pictures. They havegreat taste in material and their strength in worldwide marketing anddistribution is unparalleled," said Gordon, who added he was happy to beworking with Toho-Towa.

Toho-Towa'ss HisanoriHiranuma said, "ìWe are extremely pleased and honored to beinvolved with Mark Gordon and Sony Pictures in this deal. We look forward to along and prosperous relationship."

Through his partnership withMutual Film, Gordon served as co-financier and international distributor onsuch films as Tomb Raider, Wonder Boys, Primary Colors and A Simple Plan. Gordon and his partner Gary Levinsohn co-financedtheir own films with a network of foreign distribution partners includingToho-Towa.

Stratus Film Co, the companyhe set up with financier Bob Yari and Mark Gill, who recently became presidentof Warner Independent Pictures, has no part in the deal.

Among Gordon'supcoming productions are Roland Emmerich's The Day After Tomorrow, one of Fox's major box office hopes in 2004,starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal.