After losing DreamWorks and Stacey Snider to Paramount in rapid succession, you can be sure that Universal prexy Ron Meyer doesn’t want to see any more valuable relationships walk out of the door.
That’s why he winged to London recently to powwow with Working Title toppers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, whose deal with U is up in 2007. With DreamWorks gone, those quirky Brits may be shouldering a bigger part of U’s slate.
Rival studios would love to get a piece of the WT magic, which has delivered more than $1 billion in worldwide grosses to U over the past three years (and $3.5 billion over 10 years), plus the start of a global stage franchise with “Billy Elliot: The Musical.”
WT itself is wholly owned by U, but Bevan and Fellner could choose to set up a new shop elsewhere next year.
Bevan and Fellner are known to be big fans of Meyer personally. But for all his sweet-talking, no serious discussions can start over their future until U finds a successor to Snider. The identity of that successor will undoubtedly be a big factor in their decision.
Meanwhile, they’re getting on with business. Pics in post include Joe Carnahan‘s “Smokin’ Aces,” the Paul Greengrass 9/11 movie “Flight 93,” Paul Weiland‘s “66” and Ringan Ledwidge‘s Aussie thriller “Middle of Nowhere.”
Shooting, or soon to start, are “Hot Fuzz,” Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg‘s follow-up to “Shaun of the Dead”; Shekhar Kapur‘s “The Golden Age” starring Cate Blanchett; and “Bean II” to be directed by Steve Bendelack, with Joe Wright‘s “Atonement” to follow in the summer.