Katz perched at Focus

'Marie' producer inks first-look deal

NEW YORK — Sofia Coppola collaborator and “Marie Antoinette” producer Ross Katz has signed a first-look deal with Focus Features.

Pact, a two-year deal, gives Katz a home base after he produced his past several projects on his own. Katz will remain in Gotham working under his RK Films shingle and also will develop television projects.

Known as a production maven for pics like “In the Bedroom,” Katz said he will focus more intensely on acquisition and development as part of his new deal. “It’s kind of the first time I’m available in a long time and I wanted the opportunity to develop more,” he said.

He and Focus execs such as John Lyons will work together to develop projects generated by both Katz and Focus.

Katz said he expects some of his projects to fall under the category of character-driven dramas, but also wants to develop projects along the lines of Focus’ “The Constant Gardener,” which Katz characterized as “films with a political or historical landscape but a personal way in.”

Katz also said he would look to books as a primary vein of material, adding he has a soft spot for films set outside the U.S. His two most recent pics, “Lost in Translation” and “Antoinette,” were shot and set overseas.

Move formally reunites Katz with another longtime collaborator, Focus topper James Schamus, with whom Katz worked at Good Machine before company was acquired by Universal.

As part of the move, Katz has promoted exec assistant Fred Berger to director of development and production at RK.

Katz, who at one time also had a production deal with HBO, came to prominence five years ago with the Oscar-nommed “In the Bedroom.” He also produced the Tori Spelling starrer “Trick” and was exec producer on the Matthew Shepard pic “The Laramie Project.”

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