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$6million film deal for North East murder film

A film company has secured a $6million deal to shoot a movie in the North East based on one of the region's most notorious gangland murders.

The deal between Tanner Films Ltd, based in Sunniside, Sunderland, and Los Angeles-based MonteCristo International was announced at the 62nd Cannes International Film Festival this week.

Angus MacFadyen, former fianc of Catherine Zeta Jones and one of the stars of Braveheart, will play the lead role and the film will be directed by London-based Myles Thomas.

Tanner Films has also secured a top director of photography, a well-known British art department head and a Hollywood-based costume designer.

Interest at Cannes was such that the movie, titled King of the North, has already attracted sales potential in the UK, Canada, Italy and Germany.

The movie, a period British crime drama, focuses on the murder of Angus Sibbet, found dead in a Mark 10 Jaguar in South Hetton in 1967, and the years leading up to the killing.

The murder inspired the classic film Get Carter, considered one of the greatest British movies of all time.

The director Myles Thomas, producer Patrick Lavelle, a former news editor of the Echo, and chief executive officer of MonteCristo International, Michael Taverna, met in Cannes this week.

Mr Taverna, whose company also has offices in New York and Italy, said: "What attracted me to this project was the excellent script. We have already made good progress and will move up a gear in early July."

The film, which has been supported in script development by Northern Film and Media, is scheduled to shoot in the North East in September and is expected to create 100 crew jobs in the region.

Mr Thomas said: "This is a great story and if it had happened anywhere other than the North East it would have been made many years ago."

Angus MacFadyen, who Mr Thomas and Mr Lavelle met in Paris recently, said the story was like the British "Godfather" and Mr Taverna said it could be "the British Goodfellas".

The film was announced in the movie and entertainment "bible" Variety at the Cannes Festival, which this year attracted stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Quentin Tarantino, Sharon Stone, Penelope Cruz and many other A-list celebrities.

Mr Lavelle, from Hendon, said: "I'm delighted that after all the hard work put in over 18 months or so we have finally secured a deal with a reputable American co-producer and sales agent.

"I'm particularly pleased for the North East private investors who have put their faith and their money into this project. They believed in it from day one."