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New Regency, Fox partner on Ubisoft’s ‘Assassin’s Creed’

Companies will co-produce, distribute game adaptation to star Michael Fassbender

After securing Michael Fassbender to play the hooded hero in the bigscreen version of “Assassin’s Creed,” Ubisoft has set up the film adaptation of its biggest franchise at New Regency and Fox.

The French gamemaker will work closely to develop and co-produce the pic with New Regency, while Fox will distrib the film.

Fassbender’s involvement helped open the doors to both companies through his roles in the reboot of the “X-Men” franchise, “Prometheus,” “Shame” and “12 Years a Slave.” Ubisoft inked a deal with Fassbender to star and co-produce “Assassin’s Creed” this summer (Daily Variety, July 9).

New Regency president and CEO Brad Weston said working with Fassbender on Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” made the partnership on “Assassin’s Creed” “more irresistible.” “We wanted to do everything we could to secure the rights to ‘Assassin’s Creed,’ which Ubisoft has maintained with such care and quality over the years,” he said.

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Ubisoft hopes to have the “Assassin’s Creed” pic packaged, with a helmer, cast and script, by next summer, according to Jean-Julien Baronnet, CEO of Ubisoft Motion Pictures.

Plot revolves around a man who learns his ancestors were trained assassins after he is kidnapped by a secret org with ties to the Knights Templar and sent back in time to retrieve historical artifacts.

Although financial terms were not disclosed, New Regency will finance part of the pic’s production — participation Ubisoft was seeking so it doesn’t have to shoulder much of the risk as it ventures into filmmaking.

“We want to be sure that we’re not taking too much of a risk but that we’re still very involved on the creative side,” Baronnet said.

While many game-to-film adaptations are strictly licensing pacts, with the gamemaker having little say in how the film is developed, Ubisoft is taking a more hands-on approach with “Assassin’s Creed.”

In addition to preserving elements of the game that make up its DNA, like the design of its characters and historical elements, it hopes to tie in the release of a film with a new game launch.

“We don’t want to make games just for the sake of movies,” Baronnet said. “We want to make them in concert with the games.”

Company launched Ubisoft Motion Pictures in January 2011 to turn its games, which also includes the”Raving Rabbids” and “Tom Clancy’s Spinter Cell” and “Ghost Recon” franchises, into larger revenue streams through TV shows and films. Nickelodeon and France Televisions will air the “Rabbids” TV series next year. It wanted more control over its adaptations after “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” stumbled with Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. It went on to earn $335 million worldwide, just $91 million of it coming from the U.S.

Timing of the “Assassin’s Creed” film’s development comes as Ubisoft is releasing the American Revolution-themed “Assassin’s Creed III” on Oct. 30.

Launched in 2007, the “Assassin’s Creed” games have sold more than 38 million units worldwide and spun off comicbooks, Facebook games, novels, short films and toys and collectibles.

“Ubisoft chose to partner with New Regency because they are a talent and filmmaker-driven company, with the same independent and creative mindset that we have at Ubisoft Motion Pictures,” Baronnet said. “Bringing aboard New Regency’s renowned production and distribution expertise while maintaining our own creative and financial flexibility ensures that ‘Assassin’s Creed’ will be a high-quality film that respects the lore and fans of the videogame franchise.”

After the upcoming thriller “Broken City,” with Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe, New Regency has comedy “The Internship,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Runner, Runner” with Fox and “Noah” with Paramount set to bow.

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