London sees Eclipse

Finch, Roeg bow management-prod'n banner

LONDON — Former William Morris agents Charles Finch and Luc Roeg have launched Eclipse, a London-based management and production company, with backing from USA Films and Canal Plus.

It’s Europe’s first launch of a hybrid management-production banner.

Eclipse has forged a production alliance with USA and Canal Plus that is expected to generate four feature films per year as well as a number of TV projects.

Vanessa Pereira and Sophie Simpson are joining Finch and Roeg as partners in Eclipse. All four ankled WMA’s London office last month (Daily Variety, Feb. 1).

The new company’s clients include thesps John Malkovich, Harvey Keitel, Kristin Scott Thomas, Gillian Anderson, Linus Roache, Stuart Townsend, Emmanuelle Beart, Vincent Cassel and Naomi Campbell, along with helmers Michael Caton Jones, Michael Radford, Ben Ross, Anand Tucker, Brian Gibson and Steve Barron.

All except Scott Thomas came with the Eclipse partners from WMA/London. None will have separate agents in London, although most are repped by major agencies in Hollywood.

Eclipse’s emergence marks the first time that the U.K. or European film industry has seen the launch of the kind of management and production venture that has become increasingly fashionable in Hollywood.

Finch was trying to lead WMA in that direction during his three years spearheading the agency’s European expansion, but in the end WMA didn’t follow his lead. Instead, WMA recently shuttered its London talent division with the departure of Finch and his team.

Finch told Daily Variety that Eclipse is conceived as a kind of “United Artists,” with the talent acting as partners while also represented as clients.

Creative arrangement

“Our aim at Eclipse is to represent our clients in the most creative and liberating way,” Finch said. “We want to produce all forms of entertainment, including movies, television and theater, with them.

“It will not be our culture to solicit clients,” Finch added. “We’re happy that we will be continuing to represent clients with WMA, CAA, ICA, UTA and Endeavor, and we value those partnerships.”

USA and Canal Plus have agreed to multiyear production pacts — described by Finch as “more than a first-look deal” — with USA taking North American rights and Canal Plus handling the rest of the world, unless other financing partners are also involved on individual projects.

Eclipse expects to produce four pics a year under that deal, with budgets typically between $15 million and $30 million, although it will also do smaller movies. The company’s debut slate will be unveiled shortly.

On the TV front, USA Networks is committed to developing projects with Eclipse, with a target of putting one series or format on air within the next two years. During Finch’s tenure at WMA/London, the agency pioneered the business of taking U.K. TV formats and producers to America, the most notable success being “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

Canal Plus Image chairman and CEO Pierre Lescure said, “We are happy to be involved in such a promising venture that we know will be attracting both talent and projects, and that is totally consistent with our approach and objectives.”

United they stand

USA Films chairman Scott Greenstein commented: “USA looks forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Charles, Luc and all of our friends at Eclipse. We’re particularly pleased that we’ll be able to collaborate creatively once again with actors, producers and directors who have already worked with us.”

Before joining WMA three years ago, Finch, a Brit, had a varied career in Hollywood as a producer, director, writer and actor. Roeg was an indie producer before becoming WMA/

London’s head of independent film. Pereira was previously a highly regarded casting agent on such pics as “Elizabeth” and “Hilary and Jackie.”

Simpson, an associate, will represent film and theater development at Eclipse.

Asked whether Eclipse, which has a number of American clients, will be making American as well as European movies, Finch responded, “Our aim is to make good movies. Because of who we are and where we are based, they are going to be coming from a European point of view, but we can’t make movies that don’t work in America.”

Marc Devereaux at Olswang repped Eclipse in the deal with USA, which was in turn repped by Avy Eschenasy, exec VP of business affairs.

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