First pic under production pact is actioner 'Skyscraper'
Joining his “Fast Five” co-star Vin Diesel, Paul Walker has inked a two-year first-look production pact with Universal Pictures to house his Laguna Ridge Pictures.The first project under this agreement is the action thriller “Skyscraper,” based on an original idea by Mike Sobel. Walker will executive produce and star, with Neal Moritz’s Original Films producing. “I’ve had a long and successful relationship with Universal so it’s the obvious and ideal home for Laguna Ridge Pictures. I’m excited to expand my relationship with them and with Neal, who has been a catalyst and a guide throughout my career. Having the support of Jim Berkus, Theresa Peters and Chris Hart at UTA, along with my manager Matt Luber and my producing partner Brandon Birtell, now is the time to take this next step,” said Walker. Laguna Ridge Pictures is run by Walker, Brandon Birtell and manager Matt Luber. “Fast Five,” the most recent installment in the Fast and the Furious franchise, grossed more than $630 million at the worldwide B.O. and the next installment goes into production this spring. “It is impossible that the Fast and Furious franchise would have become the phenomenon that it has without Paul’s imprint on the series,” said Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman, Donna Langley in a joint statement. “We’re excited to be the beneficiaries of his creative work as he branches out as a filmmaker and tackles projects as a producer.” U has now locked up four top creatives from the franchise, with helmer Justin Lin and writer Chris Morgan also receiving similar deals since the pic bowed last April. At a time where studios seem to be cutting back on their on-the-lot deals, Universal has signed the “Fast Five” as well as Jason Blum and his Blum House Pictures, plus re-upping Imagine Entertainment’s deal. Since “Fast Five” bowed, Walker has latched on to two Peter Safran-produced indies, “Vehicle 19″ and “Hours,” and sources say he has wanted to get more hands on with his projects for some time. Walker is currently filming “Hours” and will jump into filming “Fast Six” this May. He is repped by UTA and Luber Roklin.