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‘Fight’-ers climb in ring with New Line

Pact reunites filmmakers

NEW YORK — “Fight Club” director David Fincher and producer Art Linson have formed a production company and made a three-year exclusive deal at New Line Cinema.

Under the deal orchestrated by NLC president Michael De Luca and exec VP Lynn Harris, Fincher and Linson will develop and produce a slate of films, and the helmer has guaranteed he’ll direct at least one at the studio, where he helmed his first hit film, “Seven.”

Fincher, a commercial and video grad who also directed “The Game” and “Alien 3,” is joining up with Linson after their first pairing in “Fight Club,” the Fox 2000 release starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.

Commercial edge

Linson, who has been based at Fox the past four years, has a producing resume with credits including “The Untouchables,” “Heat,” “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and “Scrooged.” With Fincher, he said he hopes to continue making films that are daring and commercial. The duo launch their shingle in January, by which time they should have a name for it and a few projects with which to start.

“David and I want this company to provide asylum to the best screenwriters and the most innovative directors in town and then give them the kind of support that will allow them to do their best work,” Linson said.

The partners felt New Line would make a proper home for the edgy films they intend to hatch. “They have a history of making unconventional movies successful and that fits well with the kind of movies we hope to make,” Fincher said.

Indeed, New Line got one of its first big hits in “Seven,” a 1995 film that was so gritty, several studios passed on it. Despite the gruesome subject matter, the film, anchored by a strong performance by Morgan Freeman, did surprisingly strong business, and helped make stars out of Brad Pitt, Kevin Spacey and Gwyneth Paltrow. It grossed $100.1 million in the U.S.

“David and Art create original and daring films that can push the envelope and still be embraced both commercially and artistically,” De Luca said.

Looking for direction

Fincher has guaranteed them at least one directing vehicle, but he may do others, though it’s unclear how quickly. After dropping out of a plan to direct Brad Pitt in “The Mexican,” Fincher is looking for his next film and has been mentioned for such prospects as Sony’s “Spiderman.”

In the Fincher-Linson company configuration, Cean Chaffin will line produce their films, while John Linson will supervise development of the slate.

Linson and Fincher were repped by CAA and attorney Tom McGuire; New Line was repped by business affairs veep David Alper.

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