German fund specialist ALCAS is launching a Euros216.6m operating fund to back three TV mini-series and two feature film projects from US-based producer Hallmark Entertainment.

Shooting has already begun at the UK's Pinewood Studios on Hallmark's $90m feature Dinotopia, which will also be distributed in a three-part TV version. The project is based on the best-selling children's book by James Guerney and directed by Marco Brombilla. Simon Moore wrote the TV version and collaborated with Chris Harrold for the theatrical outing.

In addition, Moore is attached as director to a new theatrical adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen classic The Snow Queen, which is budgeted at $32m and slated to shoot at the Babelsberg Studios outside of Berlin next year for a mid-2002 release.

Meanwhile, screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald is lined up to adapt Mark Twain's The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn as a $21m two-parter for broadcast in early 2002; and Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana are re-working novelist Frederick Manfred's western novel Riders Of Judgement, as a $20m two-parter entitled Johnson County Wars.

The move comes after another German fund, LHI, recently set up a leasing fund to raise additional finance for Mandalay Pictures' Oliver Stone project Beyond Borders, set to star Ralph Fiennes and Angelina Jolie and which Paramount will release domestically (ScreenDaily, November 22). The leasing fund is amongst the last that will be possible before Germany changes its tax legislation. However, the ALCAS fund launched for Hallmark's slate is set up under a different structure.