Imagine Re-ups At U

Imagine Entertainment, which last produced Universal Pictures’ $300 million-plus worldwide box office hit “Apollo 13,” has renegotiated its first-look agreement with the studio for another six years in a deal that runs into 2001. As part of the new terms, Imagine’s deal becomes much more lucrative. Principal Ron Howard is allowed to direct only one out picture (any film outside the U contract) during the six-year term, as he was under the prior agreement.

Grazer and Howard were already three years into the previous six-year deal when the negotiations began last month. The deal is retroactive to October.

Under the new terms, Universal will continue to finance 100% of Imagine’s negative costs and the producers receive an increase in their annual guaranteed salaries. They also receive an increase in the backend percentage of the gross in all media, including theatrical, video and other ancillaries. Imagine no longer has concept approval over projects, but a source familiar with the deal said that concept approval was pretty much a moot point.

Grazer said Imagine also plans to develop TV projects, specifically comedies.

Asked why the deal was renegotiated now, Grazer said that when Edgar Bronfman Jr. installed Ron Meyer as MCA president and chief operating officer, they started talking about continuing the current deal.

“When Meyer came in he said, ‘How ’bout extending the deal?’ They basically asked us to stay longer,” Grazer said. “Casey and I have worked together for eight years and it’s been a great working relationship. Meyer is such a standup, decent guy that you want to work with him and you don’t want to disappoint him. We’re very happy at Universal.”

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