Top helmers join new Renaissance era

London-based company putting several projects into turnaround

LONDON — Directors Roger Michell, Chen Kaige and Neil LaBute have joined Terry Gilliam on the upcoming production slate of Renaissance Films.

The London-based company is gearing up again after restructuring its sales operations earlier this year, and putting several projects into turnaround.

Michell has struck a deal to develop and produce four lower-budget British projects, with a view to directing two of them. Scripts have been commissioned from Hanif Kureishi (“Intimacy”) and Jo Penhall (“Some Voices”).

Chen Kaige is attached to direct “The Fancy,” a period action romance scripted by Timothy Harris about a bare-knuckle boxer. Harris will also produce.

LaBute is in final negotiations for an unspecified project that he will write and direct.

Renaissance is currently out to cast with “Good Omens,” the big-budget fantasy project to be directed by Gilliam from a script by cult authors Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Shooting is scheduled for next summer. Producers are Charles Roven, and Marc and Peter Samuelson.

It is also seeking a new director for “Los Alamos,” a co-production with Good Machine to which Nicholas Hytner was originally attached. Hytner is no longer available after being named as the new artistic director of the Royal National Theater.

Sales push

Meanwhile, the company is pushing ahead with sales on its completed production slate. Paul McGuigan’s “The Reckoning” (aka “Morality Play”) will receive its world premiere at the London Screenings. A multi-territory deal with a U.S. studio is about to be inked.

A U.S. deal is also imminent on Rose Troche’s “The Safety of Objects,” following strong reviews at the recent Toronto film fest. Pic has already sold to Mikado in Italy, Cinevia in France and Lauren Film in Spain. Renaissance has an output deal for all its pics with Entertainment Film Distributors in the U.K.

Renaissance will also get a credit on Miramax’s “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” the Chuck Barris biopic to be directed by George Clooney that is set to shoot next month. Renaissance will recoup all its development costs on the project, which it was forced to exit last spring after failing to pull together the financing under the shadow of the threatened actors’ strike.

Cost-cutting move

At the same time, the company axed its inhouse sales team in a move to cut overheads. Head of sales Bill Stephens and sales exec Charlie Bloye exited, with co-managing director Angus Finney taking over direct responsibility for sales. Former United Artists sales exec Claire Taylor came in as consultant, with the marketing department kept intact under Michaela Piper.

Finney and co-managing director Stephen Evans say the move has made the company more flexible in tailoring its development and production decisions according to feedback from distribs.

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