Atomic blast off

Exex, slate set for Fox youth unit

Fox Searchlight’s new teen division is moving full speed ahead, with a name, new hires and several projects in development.

The first release from Fox Atomic is expected by the end of the year, and a full slate of pics is expected for 2007.

Jake Zim, formerly the director of online services at Lionsgate Films, has been named VP of online. And Fox Searchlight execs Lawrence Grey and Jeff Arkus are joining the company as VP of production and director of production, respectively.

In addition, Duncan Macdonald is senior VP of promotions and Eric Lieb is director of digital promotions. Both execs arrived from Lionsgate.

Fox Atomic was formed late last year and is headed by prexy Peter Rice and chief operating officer John Hegeman. The shingle’s aim is to provide pics and creative content that specifically target teens and young auds.

In active development at the division are the following projects: “28 Weeks Later,” a follow-up to Fox Searchlight’s 2002 genre hit, to be produced by Danny Boyle, Alex Garland and Andrew Macdonald, and scripted by Garland; “The Comeback,” a spoof of inspirational sports movies, written by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson (“Not Another Teen Movie”); “Revenge of the Nerds,” an updating of the classic ’80s pic, to be produced by McG, Adam Brody and Bret Harrison, and written by Adam Goldberg; “Unaffiliated,” a sorority comedy written by Mindy Kaling (“The Office”); and the next comedy from Jason Reitman, the writer-director of “Thank You for Smoking.”

Fox Atomic’s mandate is to produce and acquire up to eight pics a year, focusing on a mix of genres. It will also develop new-media content for the Internet, mobile devices and other emerging technologies.

Though a sibling to Fox Searchlight, Fox Atomic will have its own production and marketing staffs. Distribution will be handled through Twentieth Century Fox.