New films by John Woo, Nick Hurran, John Milius and Jeremy Leven are among an 18-picture slate being lined up to receive backing from a new $250m German private investment fund which is to be launched in January 2002.

The production fund ACE - Alliance Cinema Entertainment has been established by Los Angeles-based producers Jeanette Buerling and Alexandra Hoesdorff-Rosen with headquarters in Munich and production offices in Los Angeles and Luxembourg to produce films with A-list talent attached and major studio distribution in the budget range of $9m-$70m.

"The pictures will be financed partly by private investors and by the studios", Buerling told Screendaily. "The advantage we offer the investors is that all the revenues made by the picture actually go 100% straight back to the investors without the deduction of any kind of fees or deferments until the investor has recouped a minimum of 120% of his investment. Other private equity funds cannot and will not do that. Our contracts with the studios, distribution companies, co-producers, actors and directors do allow for that unique but effective strategy. We therefore have got a lot of positive response from German and also American investors, with whom we are finalising investment deals right now".

ACE will put up a minimum of 50% - and in some cases up to 100% - of the films' production costs (which amount to a total of $450m for all 18) and will benefit, for some projects, from a five-year production, development and financing deal with veteran Hollywood producer Ray Stark's Rastar Productions giving it access to Stark's current output deal with Sony/Columbia Pictures. In addition, ACE will also make use of a distribution agreement with Rastar's international sales arm Rexmedia.

Among the projects on ACE's production slate are:

The Deep Freeze Girls, a $9m teen comedy, starring Thora Birch and Natasha Lyonne, directed by Zoe Clark Williams, to be distributed domestically by Sony/Columbia;

Valentine, Paul Lynch's $7m romantic comedy with Peter O'Toole, Maximilian Schell and Amelia Warner, to be distributed domestically by Sony/Columbia;

The Man Who Stole Mona Lisa, David S. Ward's $22m action adventure period drama, with Johnny Depp and Valeria Galino;

Out On My Feet, Barry Primus' $9m boxing action drama with Robert DeNiro and Stephen Dorff, to be distributed domestically by MGM;

Ocean Warrior, Paul Street's $48m film of the life of Greenpeace founder Paul Watson, starring Ewan McGregor, for Paramount;

Lovers Liars And Thieves, Jeremy Leven's $48m romantic comedy, slated to feature Robin Williams, Antonio Banderas, and Renee Zellweger, with Miramax in place for US release;

Doomsday Kiss, Stuart Baird's $45m action adventure - the first in a franchise based on the bestseller novel character of Dr. Alex Seacort, set to star Benicio Del Toro and Gary Oldman;

The Trouble With Jerry, Woody Allen protege Marshall Brickmann's $23m comedy, starring Charlize Theron and Woody Allen;

Stardust, Nick Hurran's $12m comedy with Laura Linney and Sean Penn, to be distributed domestically by Sony/Columbia;

A Shine Of Rainbows, Vic Sarin's $3.5m drama, with Gabriel Byrne;

Soul Calibur, Sammo Hung's $45m screen adaptation of the NAMCO video game, with Jackie Chan in the lead

Blue Thunder. John Milius's $70m remake of the actioner, set to star Matt Damon, Burt Reynolds and Ben Affleck, currently in development with Rastar Productions and Sony/Columbia.

ACE's development slate includes a $70m remake by John Woo of the action film The Professionals with Burt Reynolds, in collaboration with Rastar and Sony/Columbia; the $11m action thriller Tequila Breakdown, starring Gary Oldman and Tim Roth; and the $20m thriller Victory Road, with Sally Field and Cuba Gooding Jr.

The production fund will be managed by Buerling and Munich-based producer Michael Waldleitner, who scored an outstanding success at the German box office this year with his handling of the local hit Der Schuh Des Manitu, and will draw on the knowhow of an advisory committee of internationally respected industry figures such as former American Film Market executive Bill Shields, and LA casting agent Mike Hirshenson of The Casting Company.

Apart from Rastar and Rexmedia, ACE's production partners on this ambitious slate include such producer teams Marc Victor and Michael Grais (Poltergeist), Alex Rose and Nabila Khashoggi (Nothing In Common) , Pieter Kroonenberg, Gary Howsam and Thomas Hedman (Ignition), and Lynn Hendee and Robert Chartoff (Raging Bull), as well as writer Steven de Souza (Tomb Raider), director-producer Norman Lear (Fried Green Tomatoes) and the director-producer team of Barry Primus and Michael Cerenzie (Deuces Wild).

In addition, ACE has a contractual agreement with LA-based The Casting Company for the casting of its projects and has concluded a completion bond deal with World Wide Film Completion for all 18 projects in its slate.