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Former Searchlight Chief Nancy Utley Enters First-Look Deal With Chernin, Netflix

Nancy Utley Lake Ellyn Entertainment
Courtesy of Nancy Utley/Lake Ellyn Entertainment

Nancy Utley, the veteran movie executive who ran Searchlight Pictures, has launched a new content label and secured a first-look arrangement with Chernin Entertainment.

Utley’s Lake Ellyn Entertainment will produce film and television for Chernin, whose own first-look pact with Netflix will now include work from Utley. Jenno Topping, president of film and TV at Chernin, made the announcement on Wednesday.

“Nancy is the ultimate executive — smart, savvy, experienced, and kind. She built Searchlight Pictures into one of the jewels of the film business; a company with an unparalleled record of achievement and a reputation for nurturing the finest filmmakers. I’m delighted to have her join Jenno and me and the rest of our team,” said Peter Chernin.

Under its agreement thus far, Chernin has produced the buzzy “Fear Street” film trilogy — a series of feature films that premiered over a series of weeks —  for Netflix.

“After decades as a studio executive, I’m excited to get closer to the making of film and television as a producer. My focus will continue to be on writer and director-driven projects with distinctive authorial voices. I’m thrilled to reunite with Peter after our work at Fox, delighted to partner with Jenno, whom I’ve known and admired for many years, and grateful for the support of Netflix as I begin this new venture,” added Utley.

At Searchlight, Utley managed all aspects of the company including production, acquisitions, marketing and distribution alongside fellow chairman Stephen Gilula. The label, which came of age under Fox ownership before Disney acquired its entertainment assets, has stacked up 122 Golden Globe nominations and 159 Oscar nominations.

Searchlight’s winners for best picture include “Nomadland,” “The Shape of Water,” 12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” Her additional credits include numerous works with Wes Anderson, including his most recent film “The French Dispatch,” as well as notables like “Black Swam,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” “The Descendants,” “500 Days of Summer,” “The Wrestler” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”

Chernin’s upcoming film projects include Netflix’s “Slumberland” starring Jason Momoa and Kyle Chandler and “Luther,” starring Cynthia Erivo, Andy Serkis and Idris Elba.  In series, they’ve got the third season of “See” on Apple TV Plus,” and produced the second season of Apple’s “Truth Be Told.”