Exec to start up production company

Regency Enterprises CEO David Matalon is departing the shingle after 12 years in order to re-establish his own production company.

Matalon, who plans to leave by July, will remain based at Fox. He said he announced his upcoming ankling in order to give Regency — which hasn’t delivered a major hit since 2005’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” — sufficient time to find a successor.

“I want to be doing something I love rather than the day-to-day grind of administration,” he told Daily Variety. “I have enjoyed the opportunity to oversee and lead Regency over the past 12 years, but it is time to move on to the next stage and focus on my passion, which is film.”

Fox-based Regency didn’t indicate in Wednesday’s announcement who Matalon’s successor will be — or whether his slot will be filled. Matalon will continue to serve on the Regency board and assist the company during the transition.

Regency has been a prolific supplier to Fox, with as many as five, mostly middle-of-the-road, pics per year.

Its 15-year distribution and equity deal with the studio, signed in 1998, allows it to either bankroll features on its own or through Fox.

Its most recent pics have included moderate performers such as “Epic Movie,” “Date Movie,” “Big Momma’s House 2″ and “The Sentinel,” while “The Fountain,” “My Super Ex-Girlfriend” and “Just My Luck” were commercial misfires.

Regency’s TV arm, operated jointly with Fox TV Studios, saw its biggest success from “Malcolm in the Middle.” Its “Help Me Help You” currently airs on ABC, and pilots under consideration for next season are “New Amsterdam,” adaptation “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” and “The Return of Jezebel James.”

Matalon has been No. 2 to Regency topper Arnon Milchan for most of Regency’s 16-year history; Sanford Panitch has been production prexy since 1999.

“David has been a personal friend and a close collaborator for many years,” Milchan said in a statement. “I look forward to a prolific relationship with him and his production company and what I am certain will be an exciting slate of pictures.”

Biggest Regency successes during Matalon’s tenure included “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” which grossed nearly $500 million worldwide; “Big Momma’s House”; “A Time to Kill”; and “L.A. Confidential.”

Upcoming slate includes family comedy “Firehouse Dog”; sci-fier “Jumper,” with Hayden Christensen; “The Night Watchman,” with Keanu Reeves; and remakes of “Into the Mirror” and “Shutter.”

Matalon said Wednesday that his production shingle will have a wide approach in developing projects. “It will be the same way it is here at Regency — if it makes sense and touches my heart, we’ll do it,” he added.

Matalon broke into the business at Columbia Intl. and rose to exec VP, supervising international distribution and marketing. He later co-founded and served as president of TriStar Pictures.

Fox Filmed Entertainment toppers Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman said in a statement, “David Matalon is one of a rare breed of movie giants: smart, wise, creative, with great integrity and, above all else, a gentleman.

“David has been a good friend and a terrific partner over the years. Under his leadership at Regency, we’ve shared in tremendous successes, and now we look forward to working with him in this new chapter of his career.”

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