Elisabeth Murdoch’s Shine Group and New Regency have formed Shine Pictures, a London-based shingle that will develop commercial pics for global auds.
Joint venture draws Murdoch further back into the News Corp. fold eight years after she ankled as chief of BSkyB. She will oversee it with New Regency co-chairs Bob Harper and Hutch Parker.
Fox will release the pics under its distribution deal with New Regency. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. owns part of Arnon Milchan’s production/finance company and distributes its films.
Paul Webster and Stephen Garrett, who head Shine subsid Kudos Pictures, will run the new venture on a day-to-day basis. Elisabeth Murdoch bought Kudos, which also has a TV arm, 18 months ago.
Both partners painted the pact as mutually advantageous; New Regency has been looking to broaden its approach on a global scale, and Shine had been looking to expand its reach beyond the U.K.
“This is one step of where we’re headed,” New Regency’s Harper said. “As barriers get broken down between domestic and international, I think it’s imperative to be in front of it rather than behind it.”
Elisabeth Murdoch, who was heavily involved in negotiations as a hands-on chair-CEO of Shine, touted the deal as a way to give Kudos “the opportunity to play on a bigger stage.” Shingle produced last year’s “Eastern Promises.”
“Our ambitions have been growing without resources for some time,” Webster said. “We think there’s enormous opportunity with New Regency and Fox.”
New Regency execs said that this deal gives Shine an even bigger stake in productions than U.K.-based Working Title has on Universal pics. They said there is no firm amount set aside for development but stressed that the goal is to produce broad, commercial fare to play around the world, tapping into a rich U.K. talent pool.
“There won’t be anything they can’t do,” Parker said. “We’re in the global film business; we’re not in the specialty business.”
For their part, Garrett and Webster are quick to point out that they do not intend to compete head to head against Working Title but rather broaden their slate.
“The world is big enough not just for us but more people,” Garrett said. “This is not about us trying to blow Working Title out of the water.”
Although Shine has already pitched New Regency on several projects, none have been pre-selected for this venture.
Upcoming Kudos pics include Disney’s “The Crimson Wing” doc and “If the Spirit Moves You,” to be helmed by Rowan Woods. Webster, who joined Kudos four years ago, produced “Atonement” with Working Title Films’ Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner in addition to “Eastern Promises.” Garrett oversees the company with Jane Featherstone.
Murdoch has retained a News Corp. tie through BSkyB’s 8% stake in Shine, which she founded in 2001. And Reveille, the smallscreen production-distribution company she recently acquired from Ben Silverman, has a Fox skein called “Do Not Disturb” on the fall sked.
Parker, formerly vice chair at Fox, joined New Regency in May. The company has had recent success with pics such as “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “What Happens in Vegas.”