EXCLUSIVE: In the first overall filmmaker deal that 20th Century Fox Film has made since Jim Gianopulos became a solo act as Chairman/CEO, the studio has signed Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig to produce and direct films under his Feigco Entertainment banner. What Gianopulos and production president Emma Watts want from Feig is to get the studio squarely in the R-rated comedy business, a genre that continues to flourish in the marketplace.

Feig has given what the studio considers a strong R-rated laffer in The Heat. Releasing in April, the raucous comedy stars Sandra Bullock as an uptight FBI agent and Bridesmaids scene-stealer Melissa McCarthy as a foul-mouthed Boston cop. They team to take down a drug lord. Feig directed the female buddy cop film, and produced along with Chernin Entertainment’s Peter Chernin.

The goal is to take advantage of a burgeoning audience that has made Todd Phillips’ The Hangover series a global juggernaut and established the Seth MacFarlane-directed Ted as the top-grossing R-rated comedy ever in the international marketplace. MacFarlane, through Family Guy, is a Fox fixture, and while he made his feature directing debut for MRC and Universal, it’s clear that things are changing at Fox and that keeping strong directors in the fold is a big priority. Feig, who created the Emmy-winning cult fave series Freaks And Geeks, will generate comedies with established talent and up and comers.

“I had an amazing time working with the gang at Fox on The Heat and am very excited to team up with them to make as many commercial comedies as humanly possible,” Feig said. “I’ve also been looking to expand my carbon footprint and so their extreme distance from Burbank allows me that much-desired opportunity.”

For Fox, Watts called Feig “a fantastic filmmaker whose character-based comedies are filled with emotion and insight. He is a creative force that the best talent is drawn to. We couldn’t be more excited for him to have a home at Fox.”

Here is a trailer for Feig’s The Heat: