In an attempt to become a new supplier of studio-level pictures, Hilltop Entertainment has unveiled a debut slate featuring Gone To Earth - the second film from director Rebecca Miller starring Oscar nominee Samantha Morton - and Lovers Liars And Thieves which marks the first feature from writer/director Jeremy Leven since Don Juan De Marco.
Hilltop has also boarded Paul Sorvino's long-cherished modern update of King Lear to which MGM has acquired domestic rights.
Founded last year as a jointly owned production and distribution venture between Mark Victor and Michael Grais' Victor & Grais Productions and former Goldbar Entertainment chief Harel Goldstein, Hilltop has already completed two pictures under $10m - Sidney Furie's Road Rage and thriller Double Deception.
Gone To Earth, a $13m drama based on the book by Mary Webb, marks Miller's first feature since she won the Filmmakers Trophy at Sundance 1995 for her debut Angela. Morton - Oscar nominated last week for Sweet And Lowdown - plays a naïve and whimsical young woman torn between duty to her vicar husband and desire for an older man. The film will shoot in Ireland in May; Lynn Redgrave has also signed to star and Jeremy Irons is negotiating a deal to play the older man.
Producers on Gone To Earth are Goldstein, Lynn Mooney and Jonathan Debin. Miller's real-life husband, Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, is executive producing alongside Mark Victor, Deepak Nayar (Lost Highway, The Million Dollar Hotel) and Monty Montgomery (The Portrait Of A Lady).
Hilltop is teaming up with Norman Lear's Act III company to co-produce Lovers Liars And Thieves, an adventure comedy set in Paris in 1911 and telling the true story of the theft of the Mona Lisa. Leven is currently scouting locations for the film in France and Italy. Producers are Mark Victor, Michael Grais and Harel Goldstein for Hilltop, Lear and John Baskin for Act III alongside Julian Krainin and Michael Laurence.
Paul Sorvino's Lear project - currently being cast by casting director Rick Pagano - uses the original text but re-imagines Lear as a 1930s US railroad tycoon. Sorvino's daughter Mira Sorvino will also be in the cast. Sam Kute of Samson Productions and Paul Sorvino are producing the picture, which will feature some high level US talent alongside Sorvino father and daughter.
"My goal at Hilltop was to make big budget US studio films and make them available for local distributors," Goldstein explained. "We're not just a sales company but experienced producers, so the philosophy is to bring top-notch scripts to the market as well as having access to studio distribution."