Director aims to make 'mainstream tentpoles'

Brett Ratner, whose Rat Entertainment shingle has been parked at New Line since 1996, is moving his first-look pact to Paramount Pictures. He will take offices in the Gloria Swanson Building on the Par lot starting Friday.

Ratner, who last directed “Rush Hour 3,” will be joined by producing partner/Rat Films prexy Jay Stern, and development head John Cheng. His exit from New Line came after the studio was downsized by Warner Bros. in February.

“I thought I’d stay at New Line for the rest of my life, but when Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne left, it was time to make a change,” Ratner told Daily Variety.

Ratner emphasized that he “will not be pitching art films. I want to make mainstream tentpole projects,” he said. “I was also encouraged by Bob Evans to come to his home studio, and our goal is to team up on a project or two at Paramount.”

Along with the move to Par, Ratner has joined the roster of A-list stars and directors who have pacted with Reliance Entertainment to develop projects that will be co-financed by the Indian conglom. That list includes Nicolas Cage’s Saturn Prods., Jim Carrey’s JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse, Chris Columbus’ 1492, Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman’s Playtone, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Jay Roach’s Everyman Pictures. Each company gets at least $1.2 million to $2 million in development coin.

Ratner’s immediate Par priorities are two potential tentpoles he’s gearing up to direct.

“Beverly Hills Cop 4″ is being written by “Wanted” scribed Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, from a take that has been approved by Murphy, the studio, Ratner and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura. They hope to begin production next year for a 2010 release.

As producers, Ratner and Stern are teamed with producer Alexandra Milchan on “Harbinger,” an adaptation of the Jim Shooter-created comic series published by Valiant Comics.

Ratner said after directing “X-Men: The Last Stand,” he was eager to build a superhero franchise from the ground up. The studio will set a writer shortly.

Ratner’s TV operations remain at Fox, where he has been an exec producer of “Prison Break.” That deal is up in a year.

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