See-Saw Films partners with Arnon Milchan’s New Regency
See-Saw Films’ Emile Sherman and Iain Canning (photo credit: Gabriel Goldberg).
See-Saw Films’ newly minted first-look deal with Arnon Milchan’s production powerhouse New Regency gives the production company huge financial clout and worldwide distribution through 20th Century Fox.
The three-year deal means See-Saw founders Emile Sherman and Iain Canning are no longer reliant on selling films to independent distributors or paying fees to global sales agents.
However as part of the first-look development, financing and production arrangement Transmission Films, which is part-owned by Sherman and Canning, gets an option to handle any See-Saw films financed by New Regency.
The move is a vote of confidence in the future of Fox’s domestic and international distribution operations despite Disney’s $US52.4 billion offer to buy most of Fox’s filmed entertainment assets.
Independent distributors will rue the fact that a key player in See-Saw will no longer operate in the indie sphere – particularly those which handled Garth Davis’ Lion, which grossed more than $US140 million worldwide, including $51.7 million in the US, released by The Weinstein Company.
“With the right story, director and cast we have found the independent market quite receptive and strong,” Sherman tells IF from Melbourne, where he is working on the final mix of Mary Magdalene.
“This deal is about us wanting the right partner to tell larger-scale films. Those with budgets much north of $25 million do benefit from studio-style backing rather than an independent structure.”
In the wake of the Disney/Fox deal, which may not be consummated for a year or more, pending regulatory approvals, Sherman says, “Our understanding is that it’s business as usual.”
See-Saw and New Regency are already doing business together on director Steve McQueen’s Widows, which stars Viola Davis, Elizabeth Debicki, Michelle Rodriquez, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell, Robert Duvall and Daniel Kaluuyac and will be released by Fox in November.
Scripted by McQueen and Gone Girl scribe Gillian Flynn and based on the British mini-series, the thriller begins when four armed robbers are killed during a robbery and their surviving spouses come together to try to finish the failed job.
See-Saw’s Mary Magdalene, which stars Joaquin Phoenix as Jesus Christ and reunites Davis with Lion star Rooney Mara in the title role, will open worldwide around Easter.
Canning and Sherman said:“A decade into See-Saw, this partnership with our friends at New Regency allows us to continue to make bold, smart, commercial movies with taste and heart. We can support our filmmakers at all budget sizes and across all genres including the ability to tell distinctive US stories for a global audience.
“Having access to global studio distribution, without sacrificing our focus on quality, director-led films is what makes this partnership truly special.”
New Regency chairman Yariv Milchan added, “See-Saw has an extensive track record of producing features that are both beautifully crafted and deeply impactful. We are eager to begin working with their expanding team and build upon our close relationship with Iain and Emile, who share our passion for creating exceptional auteur-driven films.”
Sherman adds, “We got to know Arnon and Yariv through the process of Widow which has been a brilliant experience. We share a vision for bold, director-driven commercial storytelling that has something substantive to say about the world we live in.”
The firm’s TV arm co-produced with NZ’s Jump Film & TV The Legend of Monkey for the ABC, TVNZ and Netflix.
Among the TV projects in development is The North Water, written and directed by Andrew Haigh (45 Years), adapted from the novel by Ian McGuire.
Commissioned by BBC2 and set in the 1850s, the five-part thriller follows Patrick Sumner, a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up as ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic. On board he meets Henry Drax, a harpooner and brutish killer.