EXCLUSIVE: Gore Verbinski will direct Steve Carell in an untitled paranoid thriller that New Regency will put in production in March. It’s the first project in the multiyear deal between Blind Wink and New Regency, and several others will follow in quick succession. The script was written by Steve Conrad, whose credits include The Pursuit Of Happyness and The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. The plan is for Verbinski to follow this one by shooting back-to-back projects for New Regency. Those films will be A Cure For Wellness, an elevated horror film written by Revolutionary Road scribe Justin Haythe, and Passengers. The latter is the working title for a large-scale action comedy also scripted by Conrad.

steve cVerbinski, who signed the deal in April, is coming off The Lone Ranger and before that the Oscar-winning Rango and the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. New Regency, relaunched by Arnon Milchan and Brad Weston to become the kind of auteur filmmaker-friendly tastemaker fare that once defined Milchan’s company, has seen that strategy pay off quickly. A producer on the Best Picture-winning 12 Years A Slave, New Regency is in the Oscar conversation on two films this season with the David Fincher-directed Gone Girl, which Fox opened last Friday and won the weekend, and the Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu-directed Birdman, which unveils at the New York Film Festival this weekend with advance plaudits for a cast headed by Michael Keaton. Latter film will be released by Fox Searchlight October 17.

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Gone GirlNew Regency is currently in production with Gonzalez Iñárritu on The Revenant, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hardy and is scheduled for limited release December 25, 2015, through 20th Century Fox.

Carell, who has broadened from straight comedy to drama, is himself squarely in the Oscar conversation for the Bennett Miller-directed Foxcatcher. He next stars in Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, the Miguel Arteta-directed film that Disney opens Friday. Verbinski is represented by CAA. Carell by WME and Media Four Management.