New Regency aims higher

Studio adds exec VP, N.Y. office

New Regency has hired former Paramount Vantage executive Amy Israel as exec VP of production.

At the same time, chairmen Robert Harper and Hutch Parker have established a New York office and hired Michelle Kroes to mine the literary community for movie projects.

The goal is to elevate the quality level of material and filmmakers, aspirations that hark back to a Regency heyday when it made “L.A. Confidential” and “JFK,” along with John Grisham adaptations “The Client” and “A Time to Kill.”

Harper and Parker said that while they’re still re-evaluating existing development, the emphasis will be on acquiring books and scripts that fit New Regency’s mandate.

“We are going through a fairly significant shift toward more global event-caliber films driven by high-end filmmakers,” Parker said. “We haven’t done a lot of buying lately, because Bob and I have been solidifying our creative and business strategy. With our team set, we expect to be aggressive on the acquisition front. We want New Regency to be a first stop for top-flight filmmakers.”

The chairmen said they’re under no budget restrictions and hope for an annual output of six to eight films, which will be handled theatrically by Fox. Some will be developed by Regency, which will either fully finance or co-finance with Fox. The rest will be Fox-developed fare co-financed by Regency.

Israel, who headed production and acquisitions for Paramount Vantage since its formation in 2006, left in July. She oversaw films including “There Will Be Blood,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Into the Wild,” the upcoming Ed Zwick-directed Daniel Craig starrer “Defiance,” the Keira Knightley starrer “The Duchess” and the Will Ferrell/Adam McKay-produced comedy “The Goods.” She also acquired the Al Gore documentary “An Inconvenient Truth.”

She previously had an eight-year run with Harvey Weinstein at Miramax Films.

While Harper and Parker said they aren’t looking to play in the arthouse sandbox, each felt that Israel was a strong match for New Regency.

“We wanted to draw on her experience and her relationships with filmmakers, and she wanted to step onto a bigger, broader commercial stage,” Harper said.

Israel lines up alongside New Regency vet Kara Francis, who’s also an exec veep.

Harper said that establishing a Gotham outpost with Kroes gives New Regency a presence in three important cities, following its joint venture with Elisabeth Murdoch’s U.K.-based Shine Group.

Kroes, who’ll run the Gotham office as director of feature and literary development, most recently worked as a senior lit scout for Maria B. Campbell & Associates. Before that, she brokered film and TV deals for authors.

New Regency next releases the David Frankel-directed “Marley & Me,” starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston, the Kate Hudson-Anne Hathaway comedy “Bride Wars” and “They Came From Upstairs.”