Oscar-winner Tom Hanks has become the second major star recently to ink an overall production deal with Universal Pictures, following Michael Douglas’ announcement last week, the studio confirmed Monday.
Hanks and producing partner Gary Goetzman will have a three-year first-look pact with the studio. They will be looking for projects for Hanks to produce and direct as well as to topline.
“I’ve had great experiences working with many of the Universal executives and I hope we can bring a number of productions to life over the next few years together,” Hanks said in a statement.
Sources said Hanks came to U with the idea through studio president and chief operating officer Ron Meyer, who repped Hanks as an agent at CAA for years.
Exiting Fox fold
Hanks formerly had a deal with 20th Century Fox, which released the low-budget “That Thing You Do!,” helmed and written by Hanks and produced by Goetzman and Hanks.
Sources said the thesp was leery of reupping with Fox because he was displeased with the studio’s marketing efforts on “That Thing You Do!”
Those close to the production deal said it was not particularly lucrative for Hanks, who commands a per-pic salary in the $20 million range.
“If he wants money, this isn’t the way he’s going to get it,” said one insider. “He’s a big boy. He doesn’t need all the bells and whistles and baloney. He does this seriously and quietly.”
At U, Hanks and Goetzman return to a team of execs with whom they worked closely on “Philadelphia” at TriStar three years ago. U prexy of production Marc Platt and co-president of production Stacey Snider, as well as the marketing team of Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones, have a long history with Hanks and Goetzman.
Platt worked with Goetzman and his former partner Jonathan Demme on such pics as “Silence of the Lambs” and “Miami Blues” at Orion Pictures and “Philadelphia” and “Devil in a Blue Dress” at TriStar.
“Together, Tom and Gary are a very interesting team,” Platt said. “The company wants to make movies to produce. Tom may want to direct again in the future.”
Hanks currently has no plans to star in any U releases. He has commitments to star in “You Have Mail” for Warner Bros. and “The Green Mile” for Castle Rock Entertainment in the coming year.
But U insiders pointed to several development projects at the studio in which he’s shown an interest.
Universal Pictures chairman Casey Silver said the studio was open to anything Hanks was considering, whether directing, producing or starring.
“He has exceptional taste, which will no doubt translate into some great films for the studio,” said Silver.
Hanks has won two Oscars as best actor in “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump.” Other credits include “Splash,” “A League of Their Own,” “Sleepless in Seattle,” “Apollo 13” and “Big.” He is due out in “Saving Private Ryan” for DreamWorks under Steven Spielberg’s direction next year.
Other Goetzman producing credits include “Stop Making Sense” and the upcoming “Beloved.”
Hanks is repped by CAA.