Establishing its full-time London presence, Fox Searchlight Pictures has inked “Full Monty” producer Uberto Pasolini and his Redwave Films to an exclusive, overall multi-year deal for which he will have the power to greenlight an unspecified number of films each year.
With the high-arcing deal, Pasolini retains the autonomy of an independent producer, while serving as a de facto exec for Fox’s London endeavors. Fox will bankroll his overhead and will supply him with a discretionary fund, which he can dip into to develop and acquire material as well as produce pics for the 20th Century Fox specialized arm. Moreover, under the terms of the deal, he can develop and acquire material for all Fox film divisions, including Fox proper and Fox 2000.
The pact puts to rest months of speculation about whether Searchlight would open a development/acquisitions office to service and mine U.K. film talent. Redwave now is expected to move its operations into the Fox’s offices in Soho Square.
The first project Pasolini will produce under the new deal is an untitled Irish comedy, written by William Ivory and to be helmed by Aileen Ritchie. Searchlight will distribute the pic, which is expected to begin casting soon.
“I can’t think of a better person than Uberto to be our eyes and ears for emerging British and European talent and projects,” said Searchlight prexy Lindsay Law. Redwave Films will continue to be based in London. “Uberto is a risk-taker who creates a nurturing environment in which young filmmakers can do their best work and is enormously gifted in developing solidly original scripts.”
While Fox and Pasolini refused to discuss the terms of the deal, it’s expected that the largesse of his discretionary coin and production fund are similar to that of HAL Films, the U.K. production venture backed by Miramax, which has $3 million allotted for development and a rolling $50 million production fund. The in-the-works partnership between DreamWorks and Neil Jordan and Stephen Woolley is reportedly in that range as well.
Pasolini provided Searchlight and Fox Filmed Ent. with one of its biggest successes of last year, with the top-grossing British film “Full Monty,” helmed by Peter Cattaneo. Since its release in August 1997, “Monty” has taken in more than $245 million worldwide, and received four Academy Award nominations, including best picture, best director and best screenplay. The film also won four BAFTAs, including best film and the audience award for most popular film.
“The experience with Uberto and ‘The Full Monty’ was not only an extremely successful one, but moreover proved his value to Fox and Searchlight as a full-service producer — someone with ideas, who can develop them, package them, then oversee a film to the fruition of the idea,” said Bill Mechanic, chairman and CEO of Fox Filmed Entertainment. “We see Uberto as someone whose skills will translate from Searchlight to mainstream Fox pictures.”
Before forming Redwave in 1991, Pasolini spent two years as a consultant for Columbia Pictures in London where he also had a first-look production deal. The former investment banker entered the film industry in the international marketing and distribution departments of 20th Century Fox before joining David Puttnam’s Enigma Films in the early 1980s. His first work for Puttnam was serving as a location scout on such films as Roland Joffe’s “The Killing Fields” and “The Mission.”
In 1986, when Puttnam was tapped as head of Columbia, Pasolini moved to Los Angeles to join Columbia as veepee of production, overseeing such projects as David Mamet’s “Things Change” and Emir Kusturica’s “Time of the Gypsies.” He returned to Enigma in London to oversee production in 1988 where he remained until 1991, producing such projects as the Brit telefilm “A Dangerous Man,” which won the Emmy Award for Best Drama in 1992.
The deal extends a relationship between Law and Pasolini that began three years ago when the duo worked together on “Palookaville,” which Law exec-produced and Pasolini produced for Law’s old haunts, American Playhouse.
Following the enormous success of “Full Monty” worldwide, Searchlight continues to turn its attention to UK-based filmmakers. Searchlight recently acquired “Among Giants,” a drama written by “Full Monty” scripter Simon Beaufoy and directed by Sam Miller, and stars Pete Postlethwaite and Rachel Griffith. Searchlight also will be releasing the English pic “Dreaming of Joseph Lees,” helmed by Eric Styles and produced by Christopher Milburn starring Samantha Morton, Rupert Graves, Miriam Margolyes and Lee Ross.
Pasolini’s deal was negotiated by Melanie Cook of Bloom, Hergott, Cook, Diemer and Klein. Joseph deMarco, exec-VP of Searchlight, brokered the deal on the studio’s behalf.