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Facts on Pacts: Variety Eyes First-Look Deals

Hollywood’s six major studios have hardly rolled out the welcome mat in recent years for producers who aren’t delivering tentpoles.

And that’s opened the way for other players to step up.

Variety’s updated Facts on Pacts reveals that the number of on-the-lot deals among the Big Six has fallen to 138 — three less than it was six months ago. That’s higher than the low point in 2009, when the figure for all deals, including those not at the Big Six, bottomed out at 133, and about half that at the high point of 292 for all deals at the turn of the century, the heyday for first-look pacts.

There are also 16 deals with minimajors and production companies outside the six studios, led by four at New Regency, which last month signed Gore Verbinski and his Blind Wink shingle to a three-year producing-directing pact similar to its partnerships with Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa Pictures and David Fincher.

Plan B and Protozoa were both based at Par, which added Jerry Bruckheimer to its roster in December. New Regency, headed by Arnon Milchan, is 20% owned by Fox parent News Corp.

“Getting the deals in place has coincided with a lot of conversations with Arnon Milchan to focus on filmmaker-driven movies that are compelling versions of commercial films,” said New Regency president Brad Weston, who runs the company. “Talent-driven deals make sense in this business — and all of them are generating their own material.”

New Regency co-financed Aronofsky’s “Noah,” set for release March 28 via Par. Fincher is in post with New Regency on thriller “Gone Girl,” due out from Fox on Oct. 3. Weston sealed Fincher’s first-look pact last year. “That deal was born out of friendship and a humorous exchange of about five emails,” he admits.

Deals are as follows (*new deal):

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