Fox Searchlight has made an overall deal with Guillermo del Toro. This comes after they teamed on the Best Picture-winning The Shape Of Water, the fantasy/love story that also won the Best Director prize for del Toro.
FSL presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley, who bought that project from del Toro on a pitch, will host live action films that del Toro will write, produce and sometimes direct. A new film label is also part of the deal, where del Toro can percolate horror, sci-fi and fantasy genre projects. All the films will be financed, marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures.
This is a bold step for Gilula & Utley at a time when all of Fox is dealing with uncertainty with the pending acquisition by Disney. FSL certainly made a strong case for itself during Oscar season: The Shape of Water won four Oscars, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri won Best Actress for Frances McDormand and Best Supporting Actor for Sam Rockwell.
First picture to go under the new deal was one set at Searchlight a bit ago. Antlers has Scott Cooper directing a story about an elementary school teacher who takes in a troubled student that harbors a mysterious family secret with deadly consequences. Script was written by Nick Antosca & Henry Chaisson, based on the short story The Quiet Boy by Nick Antosca. Del Toro, David Goyer, and J. Miles Dale will produce, with Kevin Turen serving as executive producer.
“For the longest time, I’ve hoped to find an environment in which I can distribute, nurture and produce new voices in smart, inventive genre films and channel my own. In Fox Searchlight, I’ve found a real home for live action production — a partnership based on hard work, understanding of each other and, above all, faith. After the wonderful experience I had with Fox Searchlight on ‘The Shape of Water,’ I am honored to have the opportunity to continue the relationship. I am more than grateful to Nancy, Steve, David and Matthew for their trust in me and for joining me on this adventure,” del Toro said in a statement.
Said Utley and Gilula: “Throughout the process of The Shape of Water coming to life, we have observed first-hand Guillermo at work as a director, a writer, a producer — a creator. We believe in him and the vision for a new Searchlight label and we are eager to embark on this journey with him.”
Said FSL production heads David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield: “As well as being a brilliant filmmaker, Guillermo is a passionate collaborator, curator and advocate for other artists. Working with him on this new label, focused on the highest quality projects in the genre space, allows Searchlight to expand our reach to new filmmakers and new audiences around the world.”
The Shape of Water drew 13 Oscar nominations after winning more than 100 awards including the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival.