In a prodigious seven-figure deal with the scribe behind “American Pie,” Universal Pictures has signed Adam Herz to write and direct an untitled comedy for the studio.
Uni-based producer Marc Platt will produce along with manager-producers Chris Bender (“American Pie”) and J.C. Spink. In addition to writing and making his directorial debut, Herz also will take producing duties on the pic.
Under the blind script deal (thought to be one of the richest for a first-time director with only one produced writing credit), Herz will receive a guaranteed $1 million to pen the screenplay. He will receive another $500,000 if Universal is able to budget the film below a certain ceiling set by the studio — even if after budgeting the pic, U decides not to proceed to production.
If the film does proceed to production, with Herz receiving sole credit for his screenplay and directing, he will pocket a total of $2 million for his writing, directing and producing services.
Moreover, it’s understood that if a range of box office goals are met, Herz could bank another million from B.O. bonuses.
Hoping to strike lightening twice, Universal had to compete for Herz’s affections with other studios who were eager to do business with writer who cooked up “Pie,” which has brought in more than $100 million domestically.
And although studios seek to keep storylines under wraps for fear of inspiring a rival, in this case, Herz has provided a perfect security mechanism: the project is little more than an idea in his head. According to sources close to the scribe, Herz intends to write a twentysomething coming of age comedy that smacks of “The Big Chill.”
But Herz won’t begin writing his latest study of the urges of youth until he finishes his screenplay of “East Bound and Down” (an original idea based on the 1977 Burt Reynolds starrer “Smokey and the Bandit”) for Universal and Platt. U reportedly paid Herz $600,000 against $900,000 for “East Bound,” which will focus on one of the original film’s characters (not Reynolds’ Bandit, however).
Herz is represented by ICM’s Barbara Dreyfus and attorney Jason Sloane.