Lion, UA ink a Streamline first-look deal

Pics to follow 'Igby' blueprint

MGM and UA have lined up a first-look deal with Atlantic Streamline, the small production company headed by Marco Weber that is responsible for UA’s quirky black comedy released last fall, “Igby Goes Down.”

Under the deal, MGM will co-finance, market and distribute films from Atlantic over the next two years. Those pics will generally follow the blueprint laid down in making “Igby,” said Weber: “$8 million to $12 million, with a cachet and pedigreed cast; they can be edgy, but with a crossover potential.”

That approach is winning favor in many corners of Hollywood and among agencies in the wake of this year’s Oscar and box office success for mid-range prestige pics such as “Chicago” and “The Pianist.”

“Igby” cost $9 million to make, and grossed $4.7 million in its fall theatrical release. But it benefited by a number of awards noms, including Golden Globe noms for leads Kieran Culkin and Susan Sarandon, and an Independent Spirit Award for writer-director Burr Steers. Those noms, arriving in the weeks before the DVD and video release, fueled a solid home-entertainment launch and other ancillary markets. MGM has picked up the film’s overseas distribution as well., and is currently releasing the film in Europe.

” ‘Igby’ was not only was a critical success, but it worked financially for us,” Weber said. “If all my films perform like ‘Igby,’ I’ll be happy.”

MGM vice chairman and chief operating officer Chris McGurk announced the deal, and said both the Lion and arthouse label UA, headed by Bingham Ray, will release films that come out of the deal.

“Marco Weber and Atlantic Streamline are dedicated to innovative, quality filmmaking,” McGurk said. “Marco and his crew are extremely talented people.”

It is the first studio deal for the four-year-old company, which spun out of the breakup of the Dean Devlin/Roland Emmerich company, Centropolis. As those partners parted, indie veteran Weber joined with Emmerich, a fellow European, to produce thriller “The Thirteenth Floor” for Columbia. The company subsequently morphed into Atlantic Streamline, with Weber as prexy and CEO, and Emmerich moving on. Atlantic subsequently produced “All the Queen’s Men” for Strand.

Atlantic will remain in its offices along Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. And Weber will continue to raise his share of movie financing “the old-fashioned way,” by tapping banks and individual investors. He said the company is structured to make about two films a year.