Infinity rolls Wheel with Brosnan

Riding the wave of an Oscar win for Capote, Vancouver-based prodco Infinity Features is back at work shooting Butterfly on a Wheel, a psychological thriller starring Pierce Brosnan, Gerard Butler and Maria Bello – hoping again to turn out a world-class production that garners both critical acclaim and a profit.

Butterfly is a $20-million Canada/U.K. treaty copro between Infinity and Irish DreamTime. David Valleau (Capote) and William Vince (Capote, Saved!) produce for Infinity, Brosnan and William Morrissey for Irish DreamTime. Brit Mike Barker (Best Laid Plans) directs from Morrissey’s original screenplay about a Chicago couple (Butler, Bello) whose five-year-old daughter is kidnapped by a man out to brutally and efficiently dismantle their lives.

Former 007 Brosnan also headlines as the kidnapper. Ashley Rowe (Calendar Girls) is DOP.

‘This is exactly the type of production we want to be involved in,’ says Valleau, on set in Vancouver’s downtown core, containing as it does all the essential pieces of ‘the Infinity model.’

When L.A.-based Creative Artists Agency shopped the script to them last summer, Brosnan, Morrissey and Barker were already attached, leaving Infinity to draw up the finances.

Similarly, Infinity pulled together US$7.5 million from MGM, Manitoba Film & Sound and its own coffers to make Capote, and walked away with a cut of the US$28-million North American box office and Oscar bragging rights following Philip Seymour Hoffman’s win for best male lead.

‘I describe us as a packaging company,’ says Vince. ‘We can take a film from development, financing and production through to post-production and distribution. We create a platform for everyone to do their best work – but at the end of the day, we’re the ones who are the responsible parent, making sure that it all comes together.’

B.C. was also an important component of the package.

‘We’re shooting in Vancouver – which is playing Chicago – because of the Canadian tax credits and the production values. We put in our own seed money to fly Bill Morrissey and Mike Barker up to Vancouver to show them the locations,’ says Valleau.

The production will shoot three days in Chicago for landscapes and do post-production in the U.K.

Mel Gibson’s Icon Entertainment International owns worldwide distribution rights, excluding Canada, but hasn’t sold the U.S. rights yet. Maple Pictures will handle Canada. Icon and Infinity also recently signed a non-exclusive three-picture development and production deal.

‘This is the kind of film we want to get on,’ says Maple copresident Brad Pelman. ‘It has all the elements I’m looking for – it’s commercially driven with international appeal.’

Valleau believes deals like these can help provide Hollywood studios with more small movies.

‘Hollywood doesn’t want to [produce] films under [US]$40 million. It’s not worth it to them,’ he says. But with something like Butterfly, ‘they can pick up a $20-million film, at one-third of the price, and make money.’

The project is not backed by Telefilm Canada or other public funders.

‘We’re happy to work with Telefilm on the right project. It is a valuable asset for Canadian filmmakers. But it needs to be looked at,’ Valleau says. ‘We’re firm believers that we need to support development, not only production.’

Infinity and Irish DreamTime previously crossed paths on the 2002 Brosnan picture Evelyn, which affiliate Infinity Media, with offices in L.A. and Germany, helped finance, and which led to the deal for Butterfly, according to Morrissey.

‘When I wrote it, I was determined not to sell it or commission it. I swore I would see it through as it was meant to be,’ he says. ‘We wanted a decent company who shared our vision. Most producers give you bullshit. By now, if we were with a studio, five or six other writers would have been brought on. I didn’t want the usual development bullshit. I know that this will be done true to my screenplay.’

Butterfly on a Wheel wraps shooting in May, and is slated for a release in spring 2007.