Duo renew first-look deal for five years

James Lassiter, Will Smith and Ken Stovitz’s Overbrook Entertainment has reupped its first-look deal with Columbia Pictures for five years, keeping the shingle at the studio through 2013.

Based at the studio since 2001, Overbrook has become one of the most successful star-driven banners in showbiz, producing such recent Sony hits as “Hancock” and “Hitch.”

“I’m proud to be working with artists like Will, James and Ken, who consistently strive creatively and artistically to make interesting, challenging and brave films,” said Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Before Sony, Overbrook had been based at Universal Pictures. However, the relationship yielded no films. Casey Silver and Ron Meyer had been the U execs responsible for bringing Smith and Lassiter into the studio fold. But within six months of Overbrook’s signing, Silver and Meyer were replaced by Stacey Snider, who eventually let Overbrook defect to Sony.

Pascal and Columbia are largely credited with helping nurture Smith and Lassiter into becoming the power producers they are today. At Columbia, Smith has become an integral part of the studio’s slate. He has made or produced 11 films for Sony that have generated more than $2.9 billion worldwide at the box office, including “The Pursuit of Happyness,” the “Men in Black” films, “Bad Boys,” “Bad Boys II” and “Ali.”

Overbrook has also begun to branch out to produce non-Smith starrers such as “Lakeview Terrace,” which opened No. 1 at the box office earlier this year. Similarly, Overbrook will produce for Sony a remake of “The Karate Kid,” which will star Smith’s son Jaden.

Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach, presidents of Columbia, said the Overbrook trio has “achieved an unprecedented level of success over the past several years, and they constantly seek new challenges and push for creative excellence.”

On Friday, Sony will release the Overbrook drama “Seven Pounds,” which Smith stars in and produced. Directed by “Pursuit of Happyness’ ” Gabriele Muccino, the film also was produced by Lassiter.

“Columbia has been our home base, officially, for seven years, and unofficially for years before that,” Lassiter, Smith and Stovitz said. “In that time, Amy, Matt, Doug and their team have been colleagues, creative partners, friends and allies. Like us, they always have the best interest of the film at heart, and you can’t ask for more in a studio.”

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