Reliance flexes dealmaking muscle

The fallout between DreamWorks and Universal isn’t stopping Reliance Big Entertainment from flexing its dealmaking muscle.

The Indian media conglom has acquired Rob Liefeld’s iconic graphic novel “Youngblood” for Brett Ratner to direct.

Reliance inked a development deal with Ratner’s shingle Rat Entertainment, as well as Julia Roberts’ Red Om Films, during the Berlin film fest.

The company paid mid six figures for the rights to “Youngblood,” about a superhero team sanctioned and overseen by the U.S. government.

Project is the first to emanate from the Indian media conglom’s nine development pacts with Hollywood talent.

“Most of the great graphic novels are gone, and ‘Youngblood’ is one of the few comicbooks left with tentpole potential,” Ratner told Daily Variety. “It was a real personal passion project for me, and a lot of people wanted (‘Youngblood’), but the amazing thing about the guys at Reliance is the speed with which they’re able to move.”

Reliance has also acquired the rights to French graphic novel “Fly Wires” for Ratner’s shingle.

Project, which will be renamed “Infinity,” will be produced by Ratner, who has already tapped Sylvain White (“Stomp the Yard”) to direct and John Collee (“Master and Commander”) to pen the script.

Both projects are being fast-tracked, although no decision has been made on whether they will eventually land at Paramount.

Ratner inked an overall deal with Par last July after a longstanding setup at New Line. His Reliance deal does not impact its terms but rather lends him financial clout to acquire and develop projects he can then offer to the studio.

At Cannes last year Reliance execs announced development pacts with Nicolas Cage’s Saturn Prods., Jim Carrey’s JC 23 Entertainment, George Clooney’s Smokehouse Prods., Chris Columbus’ 1492 Pictures, Tom Hanks’ Playtone Prods., Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment and Jay Roach’s Everyman Pictures.

“The great thing with Reliance is they also have the ability to partner up or co-finance the film with a studio,” added Ratner. “It really offers freedom for the talent they’re working with.”

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