When Hollywood was flush with cash, major stars were awarded production deals that rarely resulted in actual movies being made. That’s not the case anymore, with the likes of Brad Pitt’s Plan B, Reese Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard and George Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures — which have backed Oscar-winning dramas (“Moonlight”) and buzzy cable shows (“Big Little Lies”) — on the scene.
If “Atomic Blonde” becomes a summer box office hit, it will elevate the profile of Charlize Theron’s Denver & Delilah Prods. (named after her dogs), a boutique label that churns out indie films and TV series.
Theron didn’t become a producer only to find better roles for herself. Instead, she wanted her voice heard on important behind-the-scenes decisions. “I really think I became a producer because I love the nuance of storytelling,” says Theron, who gravitates to riskier material.
The company, which has a first-look deal with Universal Cables Productions, is managed by Theron and her producing partners Beth Kono and AJ Dix. “It’s been fun going to test screenings and hearing people say, ‘I’ve never seen action like that before,’” says Dix about “Atomic Blonde.”
On the movie side, the company also has Amazon Studios and STX’s “Gringo,” an action film starring Joel Edgerton (Theron has a supporting role as a corrupt boss); Lionsgate comedy “Flarsky,” co-starring Seth Rogen and Theron; the Netflix drama “Brain on Fire,” headlined by Chloe Grace Moretz; as well as Jason Reitman’s “Tully,” another collaboration with the “Young Adult” director. “Our process is that we’re really close,” says Reitman. “I feel like we talk about everything.”
For TV, Denver & Delilah is developing “Mindhunter,” an FBI detective drama that Netflix will premiere in the fall. And a few other deals are coming together soon.
With projects like “Atomic Blonde,” Denver & Delilah is telling stories that are different from regular studio fare. “We are mindful of finding all representation behind the camera,” Kono says. “Charlize has had some of her best work with women. A lot of our stuff is female-centric stories about complicated women.”