Graham King eyes big budgets

New banner GK Films producing 'Shantaram'

Producer Graham King is unfurling a new banner, called GK Films, which coincides with the three-year extension of his overall production deal with Warner Bros. Pictures as well as the extension of King’s own production deal with Infinitum Nihil.

The news was unveiled Monday as the producer of “The Departed” completed a round of meetings in Cannes.

King told Variety he planned to carry on making the kind of big-budget commercially appealing Oscar contenders that has characterized his recent run.

The new deal gives Warner Bros. a first-look option on films produced under the GK Films moniker, including titles from Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil label. King said he would consider setting up other exclusive deals with producers as his new entity finds its feet.

King will remain a principal in Initial Entertainment, which he will continue to run as prexy-CEO; Colin Cotter will also continue as chief operating officer. The Warner Bros. first-look deal also extends to titles developed and produced under the Initial banner.

Move comes in the wake of Cotter’s establishment of yet another company, Continental Films, which, with backing from Citigroup, plans to invest in a slate of international indie pics. Those, in turn, will be sold by Initial.

King’s current creative executive team, headed by president of production Gail Lyon, VP of production Grey Rembert and production exec Denis O’Sullivan, will continue to report to King as they develop and guide his GK Films slate.

King said he’d also be partnered in GK Films by long-time collaborator Tim Headington.

Among the titles being produced by King through GK Films is the epic “Shantaram,” produced with Warner Bros. in conjunction with Depp’s Infinitum Nihil and Plan B. Pic is a starring vehicle for Depp, from a script by Eric Roth for helmer Mira Nair.

The GK Films slate also includes “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” to be directed by Martin Scorsese and produced by King for Warner Bros. Based on the bestseller by Brian Selznick, the script is written by John Logan.

 A start date for the Depp and the Scorsese pics would become clear in a couple of weeks, King said.

First to go before the cameras, however, is “The Young Victoria,” starring Emily Blunt and directed by Jean Marc Vallee. Pic begins lensing in August in the U.K. and will be sold by Initial.

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