New Regency buys ‘Empire’

New Regency Prods. outbid Warner Bros. Friday for Carol Heikkinen’s “Empire,” offering the scribe $ 325,000 and another $ 200,000 if the film is made, as well as a percentage of soundtrack and merchandise sales.

The script was sold in a bidding war that started Friday morning and ended about two hours later.

It was sent out to four productioncompanies in the last week or so, but the bidding fell to Warner Bros. and WB-based New Regency after the other two unnamed companies said they did not have enough time to put together an offer.

No names are attached to star or direct, though Alan Riche, former Hughes Entertainment prexy, will produce. Heikkinen’s previous credits include “The Thing Called Love,” last year’s Paramount release.

“It’s not a big movie,” said Rob Carlson, a William Morris agent who represented Heikkinen with John Burnham of WMA and attorney David Colden. “It’s a real character-driven piece.”

The script is also one of the first purchases made by Michael Nathanson, who became New Regency prexy/CEO a month ago. Caryn Landau handled the buy for New Regency.

“Empire” is a day in the life of the Empire record store and the twentysomething characters that circulate through it.

One primary selling point for New Regency was that the movie appears relatively inexpensive to make and has both soundtrack and merchandising potential.

In addition to Heikkinen’s take for the script, a source said she will also get 1% of any soundtrack royalties and 5% of merchandise sales, something of an unusual arrangement for a young scribe.

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