Company will have first-look deal with network

After a summer of uncertainty at BBC Films, David Thompson is leaving as head of the pubcaster’s movie arm to set up his own production company.

Thompson’s as-yet-unnamed shingle will have a first-look deal with the BBC covering film and TV. He will also continue to exec produce a slate of existing BBC movie projects for the next couple of years.

News broke at Cannes in May that BBC Fiction topper Jane Tranter was planning to revamp the film unit, raising questions about Thompson’s role. His exit deal has been hammered out after four months of tricky negotiations.

The structure of BBC Films without Thompson has yet to be made clear. Insiders expect that there won’t be a new head of BBC Films but that Tranter will take a closer supervisory role, working with the unit’s senior creative execs.

Thompson has spent 32 years at the BBC, including a decade as head of BBC Films. In that time, the unit has been involved in a wide range of movies and telepics, including “Billy Elliot,” “Iris,” “Dirty Pretty Things,” “Notes on a Scandal,” “Red Road” and “My Summer of Love.”

The current slate of productions includes David Cronenberg’s “Eastern Promises,” Sam Mendes’ “Revolutionary Road,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” “The Edge of Love” and “Brideshead Revisited.”

Tranter commented, “David Thompson leaves BBC Films with an impressive slate of international and domestic successes and a truly awesome contribution to the film and drama creative community in the U.K.”

“However, despite leaving the Corporation to set up his new venture, I am delighted the BBC will continue to benefit not only from his unrivalled expertise and experience, but from his infamous tenacity, impeccable taste and sharp wit,” she added.

“I feel really privileged to have had the chance to work for BBC Films for so many years and the opportunity to work with such an amazing array of talent, both new and established,” Thompson said. “The experience of running BBC Films for a long time — both the creative and the commercial side — gives me confidence in this new venture.”

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