Universal Filmed Entertainment Group has renewed its first-look deal with Working Title Films, the producer of many of the studio’s most beloved movies. The pact extends one of the longest-running and most fruitful collaborations in the entertainment business, one that has resulted in such hit films as “Billy Elliot,” “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Les Misérables,” and “Love Actually.”
The new agreement extends the partnership through 2025 and keeps the company’s leaders, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, in the fold for five more years. Working Title has a separate pact covering television with Universal’s corporate sibling, NBCUniversal International Studios.
“Working Title Films continues to lead the industry as global and diverse storytellers. Their inherent ability in understanding the human condition allows for individually memorable narratives on screen,” said Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. “Their unmatched filmmaker relationships have led to a wide library of films, all of which we are so proud to have been collaborators. As well as business colleagues, I could not be prouder to call Tim & Eric friends. All of us at Universal look forward to continuing our partnership.”
Working Title and Universal’s relationship began in 1999, with the release of the romantic comedy smash, “Notting Hill,” which grossed over $364 million worldwide. The companies have since partnered on more than 70 films, resulting in more than $8.5 billion in worldwide grosses. Working Title Films’ have won 14 Academy Awards and 40 BAFTA Awards, in addition to other honors. The company, which is based in London, has also served as an important hub for European talent, helping to launch or elevate the careers of filmmakers such as Richard Curtis, Edgar Wright and Joe Wright.
In a statement, Fellner and Bevan praised Langley, as well as Universal Pictures Vice Chairman Jimmy Horowitz, Universal Pictures President Peter Cramer, and Worldwide Marketing President Michal Moses, calling them “incredible partners.”
“This new agreement is a testament to the trust, respect and strong working relationship we’ve all built and have come to rely on day in day out which is invaluable in filmmaking,” said Bevan and Fellner. “The studio has never shied away from taking a chance on mainstream and offbeat stories that had the opportunity to inspire and challenge audiences in Britain and around the world and help shape the global conversation. We’ve also been able to discover some incredible new filmmakers and allowed some more established ones to make films which are innovative, take risks and in some cases have luckily also positively impacted the cultural conversation. Working with NBCUniversal across film and television provides us with the support we need to share our content with the world.”
Focus Features’ recent projects include “Emma,” an adaptation of the Jane Austen novel and “The High Note” starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson. Upcoming projects include “Last Night in Soho,” directed by Edgar Wright and starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie and Matt Smith, as well as “Cyrano,” which will be directed by Joe Wright and stars Peter Dinklage, Haley Bennett, Kelvin Harrison Jr. and Ben Mendelsohn.
Working Title TV has produced “London Spy,” the reboot of Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City” for Netflix, and the television remake of “Hanna” for Amazon Prime Video.
“Tim and Eric exemplify the notion that stories about human connection know no boundaries,” said Pearlena Igbokwe, chairman of Universal Studio Group. “They create globally resonant content that is embraced in multiple territories, across multiple platforms and we look forward to continuing our television partnership through NBCUniversal International Studios.”