Universal sets first-look pact for projects developed by 10 writers
Imagine Entertainment and Reliance Big Entertainment have set up a writers lab designed to help generate stories and ideas for feature films.As part of the deal, Universal and Reliance will have a first-look deal with the lab and the opportunity to purchase completed screenplays. The Imagine/Reliance Writers Lab will consist of 10 experienced scribes who will be paid to work exclusively for the lab for a year as they serve as creative consultants, evaluating one another’s story pitches and also penning original screenplays. Lab is the brainchild of Imagine partner Ron Howard. Initiative will be run by Karen Kehela Sherwood, who will continue to oversee the film development department of Imagine while also assigning projects for the writers group. Scribes set to take part in the lab are Margaret Nagle, Michael Fitzpatrick, Lee Patterson, Glen Lakin, Michael Perry, Stacey Harman, Jason Mantzoukas, Scott Aukerman and Daniel Casey. A 10th writer will be added shortly. “This is an approach to screenplay development that I have believed in and wanted to experiment with for years,” Howard said. “The creative energy and support system the lab should stimulate is something I am incredibly eager to be a part of.” Imagine and India’s Reliance struck a first-look film development pact in November 2009 as part of Reliance’s aggressive push into Hollywood. Shortly after that deal was signed, Howard brought up the idea of a lab to Reliance execs. “When Ron and Brian brought this unique concept to Reliance, we immediately recognized its tremendous value and potential,” said Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, who leads the media and entertainment business for the Reliance ADA Group. The industry has seen mixed results from past efforts with similar development labs. John Wells established the Writers Co-Op in 2007, and scribe Christopher McQuarrie set up the collective known as 1.3.9 also in 2007.