Ashok Amritraj's Hyde ParkEntertainment has cemented a five-year partnership with London-based investmentfirm The Brass Hat Group whereby Brass Hat will be Hyde Park's financing andproduction partner in the UK.

Brass Hat, which is headedby Nick Hamson and Matthew Goldsmith, has agreed to raise production fundingexclusively for Hyde Park projects in the range of $400m over the next fiveyears.

First title in the agreementis Shopgirl starring Steve Martinand Claire Danes which Disney is releasing domestically; second is Monkeyface, the romantic heist movie which Amritraj has nowtaken on and to which Richard Gere is attached to star for MGM domestically.

Both have key UK elements. Shopgirl is directed by British Anand Tucker, while Monkeyface will be set in the UK and is being produced by UKproducers David Kennaway and Mark Shorrock.

Hyde Park,Amritraj told Screendaily yesterday, will now actively seek out UK projects andtalent for the company's slate ofmainstream Hollywood movies in the $20m to $80m range. Amritraj plans to hireat least two people in London to oversee the UK production side of thebusiness. He stressed that the deal did not cover UK tax funds and was purelyan equity arrangement. "[Brass Hat] will be equity investors in each movie," hesaid, "or at least in the movies we choose to do with them. One in two movieswill have a significant UK interest." All films in the arrangement will bereleased domestically by a major studio or one of its divisions.

Brass Hat joins Amritraj'sother partners both Disney and MGM in the US and Epsilon in Europe fordistribution as well as Banque Netaxis for bank financing in completing thefinancial picture of Hyde Park's films. "This alliance means that, bydovetailing our Epsilon output deal and our banking relationship with Natexis,we can readily access a whole new set of financing options for our films," saidAmritraj.

The Brass HatGroup along with its sister division, Brass Hat Financial, and their advisorybusinesses have raised funds in excess of $200 million over the last five yearsfor a variety of films including The Phantom Of The Opera, The Merchant OfVenice and Head InThe Clouds.

"The Brass Hat Group isexcited to be in an exclusive relationship with Hyde Park Entertainment," saidNick Hamson, CEO of Brass Hat, in a statement. "After the wonderful experience on Shopgirl, we look forward to making many more great filmstogether over the next five years."

Hyde Park, which is now runby Amritraj and company president Jon Jashni, has credits including BringingDown The House, Raising Helen and MoonlightMile for Disney and Walking Tall,Bandits, Antitrust, What's The Worst That Could Happen' and Original Sin for MGM.

Shopgirl is set to open domestically through Buena Vista in2005.

Monkeyface was originally set up last year with Michael Douglasand Catherine Zeta-Jones starring for director Stephen Frears at FranchisePictures and Warner Bros, but fell apart over salary differences. It wasscheduled to shoot in South Africa doubling for Miami. The project, abouthustlers who team up to swindle a racetrack, has now reverted to Kennaway andShorrock who have reconfigured it in the UK with Hyde Park, Gere and MGM. It iswritten by David Harris.