The Hadida brothers Samuel and Victor are the latest indie distributors to underline the notion that cash is king. Flush with the proceeds of handling Lord Of The Rings in France through their Metropolitan Filmexport label, they are now stepping up production activities through their other company Davis Films.

"This has enabled us to take a bigger step in production finance," said Victor Hadida. "Equally banks and investors have seen fit to advance us greater credits for our own productions"

Metropolitan also confirmed that it had this week signed off on a output deal with Lord Of The Rings producer New Line, giving it exclusive rights in France for the next four years.

Already this year Davis has committed to backing four productions, with a total production value of $120m. The biggest is Senator International's The Bridge Of San Luis Rey, directed by Mary McGuckian with an al-star cast headed by Robert De Niro, Kathy Bates, Harvey Keitel and Gabriel Byrne.

It is also invested in Nouvelle France a $18th century romantic epic set against the backdrop of Britain's attempt to seize the Canadian colonies from France. Structured as a $28m UK-France-Canada co-production, it involves Davis and Richard Goudereau's Melenny Production with public cash from Telefilm Canada, SODEC and bank finance from Natexis Banques Populaires. It will be directed this year by Jean Beaudin.

"This is going to be one of the most ambitious films to shoot this year in Quebec," said Samuel Hadida, who may now reduce his involvement in the Metropolitan distribution activities in order to spend more time on Davis. Casting details and an international sales agent will be announced later during the festival.

Currently in production is At The End Of The World Turn Left, an $8m-$10m comedy set among 1960s immigrants in Israel. It is directed by Avi Nesher and stars Aure Atika, Parmeet Sethi, Neta Gerti and Jean Benegui. Finance comes from Davis, the Israeli script development fund and the distributor Golden King, which is also the Hadidas' partner in the recently opened 21-screen CinemaCity entertainment complex (see Screendaily, Nov 24). Samuel Hadida describes it as Full Monty meets Lagaan or Bend It Like Beckham.

The fourth picture is Resident Evil Apocalypse, the sequel to its hit computer game adaptation. Production is by Davis, Constantin Films and Impact Pictures. Milla Jovovich has been confirmed to reprise her role and Alexander Witt appointed as director (replacing Paul WS Anderson). Screen Gems has already signed to take US and some international territory rights, Constantin will release in Germany.

Metropolitan will handle the French release for all four pictures.