Renewal deal keeps U on Jersey turnpike

3-year pact made with 'Erin' firm

Universal Pictures has renewed a first-look deal with studio-based producer Jersey Films on the heels of scoring a hit with its “Erin Brockovich.”

The three-year deal is the second producing pact between Universal and Jersey, which is run by Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher. The studio signed Jersey to a five-year deal in 1996 after it had been with Sony for three years.

Deal continues Universal’s relationship with one of its most prominent partners at a time when many studios are letting production agreements lapse. “Erin Brockovich,” made for $51 million with Sony as a financial partner, recently became the first 2000 film to cross the $100 million mark in domestic grosses.

The agreement also comes on the heels of a deal made by the studio and Jersey to pay mid-six figures upfront against $2.5 million-$3 million for Elmore Leonard’s upcoming novel “Pagan Babies” (Daily Variety, April 10).

The other Jersey films produced for Universal are “Man on the Moon” and “Out of Sight”; both received strong critical response amid moderate box office performance. Jersey is also producing “The Caveman’s Valentine,” a thriller directed by Kasi Lemmons and starring Samuel L. Jackson, and serving as exec producer on the bigscreen adaptation of “As Bees in Honey Drown,” both for Universal.

“We are thrilled to continue our alliance with Jersey,” said Stacey Snider, chairman of Universal Pictures. “Danny, Michael, Stacey and their entire staff have proven their talent time and time again by producing movies that are diverse and innovative, while at the same time having mainstream appeal. We’re looking forward to further developing this strategic alliance and to continue entertaining movie audiences.”

In a statement, DeVito, Shamberg and Sher said, “It’s great to have a home where you feel comfortable doing the work you love with executives you love working with.”

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