'Flyboys' on MGM tarmac via Devlin deal

Dean Devlin’s Electric Entertainment has landed a non-exclusive multipic distribution deal at MGM. Inaugural pic under the pact will be the $60 million WWI adventure film “Flyboys.”

Deal is similar to arrangements the newly reconstituted MGM has made with financiers like the Weinstein Co. and Bauer Martinez.

Electric, which raised the financing for “Flyboys,” will put up $20 million in P&A for a fall release. Tom Sherak and former Sony marketing chief Geoffrey Ammer will spearhead the marketing campaign.

James Franco, Martin Henderson and Jean Reno star in the Tony Bill-directed drama about a group of privileged young Americans who volunteered to become the first fighter pilots in WWI. Devlin and Marc Frydman produced a film Devlin said has more than 800 digital f/x shots.

Sherak, who is winding down a run at Revolution Studios, first worked with Devlin at Fox when he launched “Independence Day,” which Devlin produced and co-wrote with his Centropolis partner, director Roland Emmerich. Ammer currently runs G2 Consulting.

“Getting this independently financed gave us creative freedom and ownership, and the timing of Harry Sloan and Rick Sands’ MGM business model gives us the opportunity to have a big studio release,” Devlin said. “Having studio veterans like Tom and Geoff to help market the film takes away a lot of the uncertainty that independent filmmakers usually face. If we’d gone with another studio, we’d have had to worry about being in competition with other films in which that studio had invested huge sums in budget and P&A.”

Devlin said that Electric has two more scripts ready to go. MGM will be seeing them shortly, and Electric’s foreign sales division will begin selling territories in Cannes. Like “Flyboys,” both are f/x-driven popcorn films with $60 million budgets. Devlin hopes to be in production on one of them before year’s end.

‘We’re trying to do something unique in the independent marketplace,” Devlin said. “Among independents, we have an area to ourselves, and we’ve gotten a strong reception from overseas distributors. Having the MGM affiliation there for us eliminates the need for a financing structure that requires us to make a minimum amount of movies each year. In this scenario, we can make as many or as few as we want.”

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