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Orci, Kurtzman sign two-year Universal deal

Projects include 'Van Helsing' reboot with Tom Cruise

Universal is looking to rev up its monster-movie biz, signing Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, the writing duo behind Paramount’s “Transformers” and “Star Trek” franchises, to a two-year production deal with the studio.

Kurtzman and Orci’s first projects under the new deal include developing and producing a reimagined “Van Helsing” with Tom Cruise attached to star and produce. The pair will also produce the studio’s reboot of its “Mummy” franchise that Jon Spaihts is penning.

Scribes’ K/O Paper Products banner will be housed at the U lot in Universal City.

“Alex and Roberto are extraordinarily talented writers and producers who know the value of a great story in building successful tentpole films,” U toppers Adam Fogelson and Donna Langley said in a joint statement. “They have been a major part of some of Hollywood’s biggest movies and television shows in recent history, and we’re eager to have them build on that success at Universal.”

Since coming on as chairman and co-chair, respectively, Fogelson and Langley have focused on projects with considerable upside potential, which isn’t always evident for monster movies. Last year, Universal pulled the plug on Guillermo del Toro’s horror pic “At the Mountains of Madness,” which Cruise was also circling to topline. With a sizable projected budget and a likely hard R rating, execs felt it was too costly relative to potential returns.

Sources say U execs are focusing on monster properties with strategic production plans in place rather than simply making films just because the properties are in the library.

U had looked to del Toro to help breathe new life into these type of projects, but since his deal at the studio has run out, the studio looked to Kurtzman and Orci to make films in that genre. Though K/O Paper Products is not specifically known for making monster or horror movies, the shingle’s projects have often had a supernatural bent.

“We’re thrilled to call Universal Pictures our home,” said Kurtzman and Orci. “From the moment we sat down with Adam, Donna, Peter (Cramer), Jeff (Kirschenbaum) and the entire Uni team, there was an instant flow of inspired ideas. They really understand the importance of building a strong creative team and giving our shared projects their full support.”

The CAA-repped duo’s next pic, drama “People Like Us,” starring Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks, bows June 29.

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