Deal allows films to move forward during strike

Paul Haggis and producing partner Michael Nozik have formed Hwy61 Films and will hang their nascent shingle at United Artists.

Under the nonexclusive deal, Haggis and Nozik will produce and Haggis will write and direct projects for the revived label, which recently struck a deal with the WGA, allowing the multihyphenate’s UA projects to move forward throughout the strike.

First up will be “Ranger’s Apprentice,” which Haggis will produce with Nozik and write as a potential helming vehicle. Project is based on the fantasy series by Aussie author John Flanagan, which follows the adventures of an orphan named Will who becomes an apprentice ranger and fights to keep the mythical kingdom of Araluen safe from invaders, traitors and other dangers with the help of his master Halt.

UA and Hwy61 also optioned the Joseph Weisberg novel “An Ordinary Spy.”

UA chief exec Paula Wagner said the Hwy61 Films venture is a coup for the label, which is dedicated to fostering a talent-friendly environment. “Paul and Michael are truly talented, and offer a wealth of experience and knowledge as producers, and Paul’s multifaceted abilities as a writer and director enable him to bring original stories to life on the bigscreen,” she said.

Haggis and Nozik lauded UA as “an artist-friendly studio.” They added, “We look forward to creating a home in Hwy61 where really gifted writers and directors can flourish.”

Haggis most recently directed “In the Valley of Elah.” He wrote and directed the Academy Award winner “Crash.” His recent screenplay credits include “Million Dollar Baby,” “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Casino Royale.”

He also created a number of TV shows, including CBS’ “EZ Streets.”

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