You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Universal, Syfy open film shingle

Film company plans 2012 start

Universal Pictures and NBC Universal cabler Syfy have launched the genre shingle Syfy Films to develop projects for the bigscreen.

The production company will use Syfy’s expertise in genre fare to develop and produce pics with a human, relatable angle set in the worlds of science fiction, fantasy, horror and the supernatural. Aim is to release two films annually starting in 2012.

Mark Stern, Syfy programming chief and co-head of content for Universal Cable, and Universal co-chair Donna Langley will oversee production. U will distribute the pics and handle marketing. Syfy will promote the projects on each of its platforms, including online.

Partnership aims to help Syfy up brand awareness, an aim since the network underwent a makeover more than a year ago. And it gives Universal a dedicated genre label. Paramount has long had similar arrangements with its cable siblings for the Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films labels, which focus on projects tied to each net’s target demo.

“This is something that we’ve wanted to do ever since I started at Syfy,” said network prexy Dave Howe, who has seen ratings success with such culty sci-fi telepics as “Sharktopus” and miniseries including “Alice” during his tenure.

Howe observed that while the film industry has seen such cheaply-produced horror pics as the “Saw” films increase over the past few years, science fiction and fantasy auds have been comparatively underserved by studio genre arms.

“We believe that there’s a gap in the market for these lower-budget science fiction and fantasy movies,” Howe said. “And if you look at ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ or ‘District 9’ or ‘Pitch Black,’ they’ve been very successful financially.”

Budgets for Syfy Films productions will reportedly range between $5 million and $25 million.

Revenue will be split 50-50 between Syfy Films and Universal, with U picking up a distribution fee as well. “There’s some of it that we haven’t worked out,” Howe said.

For some of Syfy’s more recognizable offerings, such as “Eureka,” shingle may also provide the opportunity for bigscreen treatment (although Howe said there are no immediate pic adaptation plans for “Eureka”). U has been developing a feature adaptation of Syfy’s “Battlestar Galactica.”

Projects that move in the other direction — from bigscreen to small — are a possibility as well.

“We want to build franchises where possible,” Howe said, “so we’ll be greenlighting films that can generate sequels, that can spin off television series and videogames.”

Syfy and U are seeking a production exec who will work closely with their creative teams in developing projects that fit the brand.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • John Williams poses on the red

    'Star Wars' Composer John Williams Nabs 71st Grammy Nom 58 Years After His First

    Composer John Williams received two Grammy nominations, as announced yesterday, bringing his grand total to 71 nominations, with 24 wins to date. Williams was nominated in the composing and arranging field. His “Galaxy’s Edge Symphonic Suite,” written for the new “Star Wars”-themed park at Disneyland, was nominated for best instrumental composition, while his arrangement of [...]

  • Rian Johnson'Knives Out' premiere, BFI London

    Rian Johnson on 'Knives Out,' 'Star Wars' and Toxic Fandom

    Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” is a wickedly funny, fiendishly clever, and surprisingly prescient murder mystery. It succeeds as both a brilliantly constructed puzzle-box of a whodunit, offering up a big reveal that’s extremely satisfying, and as a incisive comment on the class divisions and prejudice that are roiling America. If that sounds medicinal, fear not. [...]

  • Parasite

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins Best Film at Asia Pacific Screen Awards

    Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” which earlier this year won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, on Thursday added the Asia Pacific Screen Award for best film to its burgeoning trophy cabinet. “Parasite” producer Jang Young-hwan was on hand to accept the award at the end of a ritzy ceremony in Brisbane, Australia. The APSAs, [...]

  • Game of Thrones Season 6

    British Directors Guild Issues Guidelines for Filming Nudity and Simulated Sex

    Directors UK, the professional guild for screen directors in Britain, has launched guidelines for directing nude and simulated sex scenes to prevent unprofessional conduct in film and TV. Described as the “first of their kind in the U.K.,” the new guidelines “are born of the need to set clear and shared professional expectations that apply [...]

  • People attend the opening ceremony of

    Korean Festival Selectors Resign Over Programming Independence Complaint

    Three programmers who have headed the Jeonju International Film Festival, South Korea’s second largest festival, resigned en masse on Tuesday. They say they are protesting the encroachment on their independence by the board of directors and city authorities. The three – Kim Young-jin, Lee Sang-yong and Jang Byeong-won – have led the Jeonju film festival [...]

  • Yuni Hadi

    Singapore Film Festival to Reflect South East Asian Spirit of Cooperation

    Yuni Hadi, executive director of the Singapore International Film Festival, says South East Asian cinema contains exciting talent. And that the way forward involves cooperation with the video streaming platforms. What have been the high and low points of the cinematic year for Southeast Asian cinema? “There are some amazing short films and documentaries that [...]

  • Adele Haenel Adèle Haenel

    Accusations Against Roman Polanski, Other Filmmakers Propel #MeToo in France

    When the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke two years ago, the news was mostly met in France with a Gallic shrug. Screen icon Catherine Deneuve even denounced the #MeToo movement as creating a “totalitarian” environment. But bombshell accusations this month from actors Adèle Haenel and Valentine Monnier may finally have turned the tide in the local film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content