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New Regency bulks up for 2010

Studio putting busy development program in place

Though development has all but disappeared at some studios, New Regency is putting a busy development program in place and plans to produce as many as four movies during the first half of next year.

Since undergoing a top-to-bottom management makeover last year, the company has put 25 projects into active development. It’s also canceled some 40 others.

Among the films slated to start production, to be distributed through 20th Century Fox or Fox Searchlight, are these:

Also on the immediate horizon are “Beat the Reaper,” with Leonardo DiCaprio attached and Julie Yorn and Appian Way producing; “Flying Tigers,” scripted by Christopher McQuarrie, as a star vehicle for Tom Cruise, who is attached; and “The Last Man,” with David Ayer writing and directing for producers Scott Stuber and Erwin Stoff.

“Our aim is to build a program with a mix of established directors with commercial records and promising young filmmakers who have groundbreaking sensibilities,” said Hutch Parker, the former vice chairman of 20th Century Fox Film Group who was named chairman of Regency in May 2008 alongside Bob Harper.

New Regency is 20% owned by News Corp., and its controlling shareholder is Arnon Milchan. It aims to finance one-third of its films on its own, with one third co-financed with Fox and the remainder backed totally by Fox.

While the company has had a quiet year, it has been involved in three major hits over the past five years. “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” was developed at New Regency and totally funded by the company, while “Marley and Me,” was developed at Fox 2000 and “Alvin and the Chipmunks” was also developed by Fox.

While amping up its features program, New Regency says it’s withdrawn from the television business, where it was once home to the hit Fox laffer “Malcolm in the Middle.”

“We felt that the TV business model has simply not caught up with the marketplace,” Harper said.

New Regency remains one of a small tribe of indie shingles that are substantially self-funded. While Spyglass, Relativity and Summit produce and finance their films at several studios, New Regency has long had its exclusive base at Fox.

As such, it competes for prime dates with other Fox units, such as Fox Searchlight, Fox 2000 and Peter Chernin’s new label, which is becoming active in the feature arena.

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