Company has first-look deal with Universal

Jennifer Aniston and producing partner Kristin Hahn have formed Echo Films, a company that will start with a first-look deal at Universal Pictures.

Aniston and Hahn have already made several project acquisitions, most of which will be developed as star vehicles for Aniston.

The studio has just acquired screen rights to Jane Fallon’s British bestseller “Getting Rid of Matthew,” and Aniston and Hahn will produce with Lynda Obst and Marc Rosen. Fallon, a veteran U.K. TV producer who is married to Ricky Gervais, will adapt her novel about a hard-charging publicist whose lusty affair with a married man is ruined by his decision to leave his wife and two children for her. She invents a new persona, befriends the spurned wife and attempts to patch up the marriage up so she can be rid of him. In the process, she develops a thing for his oldest son.

Universal and Echo also have tapped the book market to acquire “The Divorce Party,” a Laura Dave novel that Viking will publish in May, with Gwyn Lurie (“The Man Who Ate the 747″) aboard to write the script. As a husband and wife reach their 35th wedding anniversary, they hold a party to announce their divorce. It creates complications for their son, who returns home with his commitment-shy fiancee.

Aniston and Hahn have made a script deal at U for “Counter-Clockwise,” a script by Paul Bernbaum (“Next”). It’s a true story based on a study conducted by Harvard prof and psychologist Ellen Langer in which she tried to reverse the aging process of subjects by re-creating the era of their prime. Aniston and Hahn will produce with Gina Mathews and Grant Scharbo. Echo has also has a U deal for “Love: Todd,” a Kristen Stavola-scripted drama about an aging tennis pro-turned-coach who gets schooled by a precocious teen tennis phenom. Aniston will produce with Hahn, but isn’t planning to act in the film.

The Echo partners have a deal at Overture for “Chemistry,” a David Sussman-scripted dramedy centered around the fact that romantic love and obsessive compulsive disorder demonstrate similar brain chemistry.

They have a DreamWorks deal on “The Goree Girls,” a fact-based adaptation of Skip Hollandsworth’s Texas Monthly article about a falsely convicted woman who gives purpose to her fellow Texas inmates by starting one of America’s first all-female bands. Aniston plans to star, and John Lee Hancock is polishing a script by Margaret Nagle.

Aniston and Hahn have been working together since Aniston was a partner with Brad Pitt and Brad Grey in Plan B, and Hahn, an exec producer on “The Departed” and New Line’s “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” co-directed the docu “Anthem.”

Echo’s emphasis will be on producing grounded, relatable material, the partners say.

“We particularly like working from books and real-life stories about distinct characters that embody something relatable and relevant about human nature’s double-sided coin of vulnerability and mettle,” Hahn said.

That theme prompted the company’s name, Aniston said.

“We’re drawn to stories about people finding their voice and finding their way because they help us as listeners and viewers do what we feel we’re all trying to do, which is making sense of our lives through the stories of others,” Aniston said. “That’s why we chose the name Echo, to echo back an idea, a challenge, something that resonates through all of us.”

Aniston is shooting the David Frankel-directed “Marley & Me” at Fox 2000 with Owen Wilson and has wrapped the Stephen Belber-directed “Management” for Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, as well as several other pics.

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