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Fox puts lock on Lightstorm in 5-year reup

New deal calls for two to four titles annually

James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment has reupped its existing production deal at 20th Century Fox, signing another five-year, first-look pact with the studio. Announcement was made by Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos, chairmen of Fox Filmed Entertainment.

Under the new arrangement, Lightstorm eventually plans to provide two to four titles annually for the Fox pipeline. To accommodate that accelerated pace, company plans to hire an additional production exec in the near future.

Although Fox and Lightstorm began their studio/filmmaker partnership in 1995, Cameron has worked with Fox for 16 years. His relationship began with “Aliens” in 1985 and most recently produced the world’s highest-grossing film, the 1997 megahit “Titanic,” which took in more than $1 billion worldwide. Last April, Jon Landau folded his Fox-based Blue Horizon shingle and its development slate into Lightstorm. When the former Fox exec began his production deal at the studio in 1995, “Titanic” was his first project.

“I’ve always loved having the Fox fanfare at the head of my films, so I was glad when we were able to make a deal for another five years,” Cameron said. “Since 1993, I’ve worked directly with Peter Chernin, and that relationship has borne fruit, both in the films we have put on the screen together and in our personal friendship. We have learned to trust each other, which was more significant to me in deciding to stay with Fox for another five years than the economic and control issues in the new deal.”

Landau told Daily Variety, “We wanted it to work here. (Rothman and Gianopulos) are two people with whom we have very good and tight relationships, and they were very supportive of allowing us to put into development those projects that will allow us to produce two to four movies a year.”

Lightstorm, which is headed by Cameron with Rae Sanchini and Landau, is developing projects such as the sci-fi drama “Brother Termite,” which Stephen Norrington (“Blade”) will direct from a script adapted by John Sayles from a novel by Patricia Anthony; the contemporary film noir/suspense thriller “The Coffin,” which Guillermo del Toro (“Cronos”) is attached to direct, based on the new comicbook series by the same title; and “Damned If You Do,” a romantic comedy with fantasy elements, which Stan Winston is attached to direct.

‘Damned’ slate

Also in the Lightstorm pipeline are “The Furthest Place,” which Rupert Wainwright is attached to helm from a script by Joe Gayton and David Schow; “Comeback,” an original screenplay by Rick Krause; “Ramses the Damned,” based on the bestselling novel by Anne Rice; “Real Time”; and “True Lies 2,” which Jeff Eastin is scripting.

Between 1992-95, when Lightstorm acted as an equity-backed independent production company, Fox served as Lightstorm’s North American distributor in addition to handling several foreign territories on both “True Lies” and “Strange Days.”

Cameron also has been responsible for “The Terminator,” “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “Aliens,” “The Abyss,” and “Point Break,” the latter three produced at Fox. His films have grossed over $3 billion in worldwide box office.

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