Helmer in overall deal at Universal

“Patch Adams” helmer Tom Shadyac, whose last three films have been a life preserver for Universal Pictures, has inked a lucrative overall three-year first look deal with Universal Studios.

The arrangement, which was made with Shadyac’s Shady Acres Prods., will include directing and producing feature pics as well as producing music through Shadyac’s newly formed music company, 333 Music Group.

The deal is significant for Universal, which has suffered through a feature drought of 18 months without a hit until “Patch Adams,” which has grossed over $130 million domestically.

Shadyac’s last four pics (three of which were for U) have grossed more than $1 billion worldwide. They include “The Nutty Professor,” “Liar, Liar,” “Patch Adams” and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

Shadyac would not divulge the compensation U is willing to provide for the deal, but he termed the arrangements as “very generous.”

Said one person close to the deal: “They really stepped up in order to get him.”

Not co-financed

For Universal, the pact represents a key alliance with a hot filmmaker. The studio has been choosy lately in the types of production deals it signs. U has been quietly looking for split rights ventures with production companies that provide co-financing to particular projects.

However, Shadyac, as with U’s biggest product supplier Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment, will not provide any financing for his projects.

But U is nonetheless keen on him.

“With this new agreement, Tom will have a home at Universal where he can continue to produce, direct and expand his creative reach into music,” said Universal prexy and chief operating officer Ron Meyer, who made the announcement.

Organic crop

Shadyac said the deal grew organically out of his positive relationship with the execs at Universal.

“For three straight films, they know who I am, they know how I work,” he said.

Shadyac added that he was not worried that the Seagram-owned Universal will pull out of the film business as some naysayers have predicted about Seagram’s chairman, Edgar Bronfman Jr.

“I asked him that very question,” Shadyac said. “I asked Edgar to address them with me. He says he loves the movie business and is very committed to it.”

More hires

With the deal, Shadyac plans to expand his company, hiring more senior execs on the film side.

Prexy of production Stacey Snider, who will oversee the pact along with co-prexy of production Kevin Misher, said: “Tom has outstanding creative and business instincts, and each of his films has created lasting value for our company.”

Currently, Shadyac is exec producing the Universal Pictures/Imagine Entertainment production of “The Nutty Professor 2.”

UTA’s Dan Aloni and Jim Berkus brokered the deal for Shadyac. Attorneys Bruce Ramer and Larry Rose repped the helmer.

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