EXCLUSIVE– British production powerhouse Working Title is re-upping with Universal Pictures for another five years to take the two companies through 2020. The new production agreement replaces the first-look deal that had been set to expire this year. The move will allow Working Title co-chiefs Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner to maintain their position as the UK’s, and arguably Europe’s, most successful production company.
London-based Working Title first entered into a production agreement with Universal in 1999. Since then, Bevan and Fellner have contributed some $5 billion in worldwide grosses to Universal from the more than 50 films they have made with the studio. Some of the more notable hits include Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, Love, Actually and the Bridget Jones films with Renee Zellweger. Most recently, Working Title produced the Academy Award-winning The Theory Of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne as scientist Stephen Hawking.
“Working Title is the biggest and best international production company in the world and we’ve been privileged to be in business with them for many cherished years,” said Universal chairman Donna Langley.
“We are thrilled to be able to continue collaborating with Universal for another five years,” said Bevan and Fellner. “It’s important for us as a company to have partners that are interested in a wide variety of films and a desire to not only do great business but also to strive to make interesting films and that’s what Ron, Jeff, Donna and everyone else at Universal do. We can’t thank them enough for their support in the past and for their ongoing belief in Working Title.”
In recent years, Bevan and Fellner have increasingly worked internationally with third parties, notably Studio Canal, on the likes of Thomas Alfredson’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy as well as Hossein Amini’s The Two Faces Of January, Ron Howard’s Rush and the upcoming Zac Efron-starrer We Are Your Friends, which Warner Bros will release domestically.
The new production agreement is undoubtedly a significant vote of confidence by the Universal top brass in the strategic value of keeping Bevan and Fellner within the studio’s inner circle. Working Title would not have been short of outside interest.
Working Title has a particularly strong slate of films in the pipelines, including the Coen brothers’ all-star Hail, Caesar with George Clooney, Josh Brolin, Jonah Hill, Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Channing Tatum and Scarlett Johannson. Also coming soon are Stephen Frears’ Lance Armstrong biopic Icon; Tom Hardy doing a double turn as iconic British twin gangsters the Krays in Brian Helgeland’s Legend; 3D action adventure Everest starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightley and Robin Wright and, most well-timed of all given the current debate over transgender issues, Tom Hooper’s The Danish Girl starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander.
Inspired by the novel written by David Ebershoff, The Danish Girl is a love story about Danish painters Einar Wegener and his wife Gerda. In 1930, Wegener was one of the first men ever to undergo operations to become a woman. Lucinda Coxon adapted the screenplay.