NEW YORK — The long-running partnership between Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme and his producing partner Ed Saxon is coming to an end. The duo will soon dissolve their Universal-based Clinica Estetico label at a time when they are approaching the starting gate on several major projects.
Both partners were unavailable to comment, but sources describe the pending divorce as amicable; Demme simply wishes to concentrate solely on his directing projects. Since Demme is highly selective and only directs every few years, that would leave Saxon little to do. Demme last directed the Disney film “Beloved.”
The duo won Oscars for “The Silence of the Lambs” and teamed up on the Demme-directed “Philadelphia,” “Married to the Mob” and “Something Wild,” the film which led them to partner in 1986. They also produced “Miami Blues,” “Devil in a Blue Dress.” With Gary Goetzman, Demme and Saxon produced the Tom Hanks-directed “That Thing You Do!”
Demme and Saxon are expected to form separate companies but will follow through on the projects they’ve already set up.
The split is a blow for the Gotham production community, where Clinica Estetico was considered a classy fixture. It comes at a time when the company is holding a seemingly hot hand.
Among its projects is the Universal-based remake of the 1963 Stanley Donen-directed thriller “Charade,” which Demme plans to direct with Will Smith in the starring role; “Adaptation,” a fast-tracked Columbia-based pic from the “Being John Malkovich” team of scribe Charlie Kaufman and director Spike Jonze; and “I Know This Much Is True,” a Fox 2000-based adaptation of the Wally Lamb novel that Jim Sheridan is developing to direct as a possible vehicle for Matt Damon, with script by Richard Friedenberg.
Enter the ‘Asylum’
Other percolating pics include an adaptation of the Pat Barker novel “Eye in the Door” at USA Films, which Demme hopes to direct, and “Asylum,” Paramount’s adaptation of the Patrick McGrath novel about the wife of a superintendent of an English insane asylum who falls in love with one of the patients, a murderer. Demme wants to direct that film as well; Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson are circling the leading roles. Saxon will produce with Mace Neufeld.
Clinica Estetico is also producing “Bleeder,” a film Neil LaBute will direct, and “Seren,” a film about a Holocaust survivor that will be directed by Agnieszka Holland at Universal.