Producer Permut Moves Indie Setup To New Line

Indie producer David Permut has finalized a three-year, first-look development and production deal with New Line Cinema. He has moved his film company, Permut Presentations, in-house as a freestanding filmmaking operation within New Line after more than six months of negotiations.

Permut and New Line have been in discussions since last fall, when New Line originally approached the producer about coming aboard as president of the company’s film wing.

While the development/production pact is nonexclusive, according to sources a unique element of the agreement gives Permut a small stock position in New Line – reportedly less than a 1% stake – and guarantees New Line a small participation in revenues generated by those films produced by Permut Presentations, be they for New Line or for other studios or film companies.

Permut, whose Neil Simon period romantic comedy for Hollywood Pictures, “The Marrying Man,” recently bowed and whose “29th Street” is due out through 20th Century Fox in October, has more than two dozen projects in development with various majors, including Universal, Tri-Star, Paramount and Disney.

Permut said those projects remain untouched by the New Line deal.

The producer’s credits also include “Dragnet,” with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks, and “Blind Date,” teaming Bruce Willis and Kim Basinger.

Under the terms of the deal, Permut will have access to a discretionary development fund of $350,000 set up by New Line and replenishable annually for the duration of the three-year pact.

Permut will not, however, have the power to greenlight pictures, which remains the domain of New Line topper Robert Shaye and production prexy Sara Risher.

The agreement calls for Permut to develop projects “consistent” with New Line’s current business plan to limit production budgets to $10 million.

One project Permut said he may bring to New Line is his Janis Joplin biopic. The producer is in the process of hiring two development/production executives.

Permut had a previous first-look deal at MGM/UA for four years, which expired last August. Prior to that, he had a first-look arrangement at Lorimar and before that at Columbia Pictures for two years.

He currently is in preproduction on the spoof “Buddy Cops” at Tri-Star, which Alan Metter is set to direct and Bob Kosberg will co-produce. Film is targeted to begin production in October, according to Permut.

Permut also has a number of other projects on the burner, including the previously announced comedy “Dummies” at Universal, where he also has a “Dragnet” sequel in the works, and a feature adaptation of the Little Rascals shorts.

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