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‘Sense’ producer Mendel shifts shingle to U’s lot

Filmmaker moving from Mouse House

“Sixth Sense” producer Barry Mendel is moving his eponymous production banner from Disney to Universal, where he has inked a three-year first-look pact.

Under his previous three-year pact with Disney (which expired this month), Mendel co-produced “Sense” with the Kennedy-Marshall Co. The modestly budgeted film, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan and starring Bruce Willis, has rung up nearly $200 million since its release Aug. 6.

While Disney last spring informed Mendel that they would not be renewing his deal, sources said that once “Sense” started its box office stampede, the studio joined several other suitors to try and sign Barry Mendel Prods. to term pacts.

Mendel, a former UTA agent, is expected to hang his shingle on the U lot on Friday.

“We are thrilled to welcome Barry to the Universal family and look forward to a successful collaboration,” said U co-chair Stacey Snider, who made the announcement along with her counterpart, Brian Mulligan.

“This agreement with Barry exemplifies Universal’s focus on building long-term relationships with top creative talent,” said Mulligan. “His instincts will be a great asset to Universal Pictures.”

“Every producer’s dream is to find a permanent home where each year, the studio is counting on you to help them prepare their slate,” said Mendel. “Based on their creative and business sensibilities as well as my relationships at the studio, Universal offers a great opportunity … It is an exciting and youthful studio and I hope to earn my place here. However, I am leaving Disney on the best of terms. They were the first ones to believe in me, and I am very grateful for everything they have done.”

In addition to “Sense,” during his three years at Disney, Mendel produced the Wes Anderson-helmed “Rushmore,” which starred Bill Murray. At Disney, Mendel also is producing Anderson’s next pic, which the latter is co-writing with Owen Wilson.

Among the other upcoming projects Mendel is producing are “Flora Plum,” scripted by Steven Rogers with Jodie Foster attached to direct next spring; Shyamalan’s follow-up to “Sense,” which the writer-director currently is writing on spec and will take out to the town with the intent on beginning production in 2000; “Shanghai,” a spy thriller written by Hossein Amini for Phoenix Pictures; and “Babe” director Chris Noonan’s adaptation of Russell Bank’s novel “Rule of the Bone,” which is awaiting the screenplay before being set up with Noonan to direct.

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