Rice will top Fox's new teen genre unit

Peter Rice, the guy behind arthouse hits “Sideways” and “Kinsey,” is Fox’s unlikely pick in its quest to get in touch with the zit-geist.

To complement News Corp.’s recent acquisition of online networks IGN and MySpace, which cost Rupert Murdoch’s conglom more than $1.2 billion, Fox Filmed Entertainment is launching a new division to target teens and young adults.

Rice will head the label, which still doesn’t have a name, while continuing to oversee specialty division Fox Searchlight.

Fox chair Jim Gianopulos said the division will be expected to produce and acquire up to eight films per year.

“Our target remains in the 20-25 (pic) range and as this division comes on line and builds its development slate, it will make films that we probably won’t be making in other parts of the company,” he said.

Pics from the new division will be distribbed through the main 20th Century Fox channels, while the label will hire its own production and marketing staff.

Teen division will join a stable that includes 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Animation and Fox Searchlight.

“This is a methodology to look at a specific group of consumers,” Rice said. “The way they are consuming movies is changing and we need to make incredibly cool things for them. This is the audience that consumes movies and television more voraciously than any other audience.”

While Fox execs say a youth-oriented division had been in the works before News Corp.’s big online bets, Rice added, “Fox has made a huge investment in these companies, and we need to work very closely with them. It’s a pivotal part of the new company.”

While the label will start off in film production, Rice said it will also seek to develop content for new-media channels including Internet downloads and mobile phones.

Asked to describe the sort of films the label will produce, Rice said: “We’d be very happy to make a movie like ‘Sin City.’ We’d also be very happy to make a movie like ‘Mean Girls.’ ”

Gianopulos said, “You can look at our output from the last few years and you can find any number of films that would be similar to the films that will be produced by this division.” Specifically he pointed to “Dodgeball,” which went under the TCF banner, and “The Ringer” and “Roll Bounce,” which are both Searchlight pics.

As part of the announcement, Rice has inked a fresh five-year contract with Fox.

Tom Rothman, chairman of Fox Filomed Entertainment, voiced confidence in Rice in a statement. “Peter is a crackerjack film executive who has been making all of us at Fox look good for years. We are lucky as hell that he has agreed not only to keep doing that for five more years, but take on an additional challenge to boot.”

Gianopulos didn’t offer a timeline for when the new division’s name would be unveiled or say what ideas were being mulled. “Got a good one?” he asked.

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