EXCLUSIVE: Writer-producer-director James Vanderbilt, producer William Sherak, and finance/business operations executive Paul Neinstein have formed Project X Entertainment, an independent production/financing company that launches with a multi-year first look and co-development television deal with Spyglass Media Group.
Project X will co-develop and co-finance episodic content with Spyglass, as Project X endeavors to make film and TV product for streaming, broadcast, cable TV and other distribution platforms. Spyglass chairman/CEO Gary Barber and Spyglass Television president Lauren Whitney made the deal with the Project X principals.
Spyglass launched as a partnership between former MGM chief Barber with Lantern Entertainment Co-Presidents Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic after the latter took possession of the assets of The Weinstein Company in bankruptcy. The company has backing from Warner Bros. Pictures, Italy’s Eagle Pictures and global exhibitor Cineworld Group.
“We built Project X because we believe that smart content can be commercial and commercial content can be smart,” said the partners in a statement. “We could not be more excited to provide a home and development funding for like-minded artists, where we can partner with and support storytellers in building content for the worldwide viewing audience, no matter the distribution platform. At Project X, creative will come first. Always.
“In addition to being a longtime friend and business partner, Spyglass’ Gary Barber is the best in the business,” said the Project X partners. “Our deal with Gary, Lauren and the Spyglass team reflects our enormous respect for what they have built as well as our firm belief that our collective efforts will provide unique storytelling opportunities and distribution platforms for our creative partners.”
Said Barber: “The creative team at Project X is a natural fit for us. I’ve known and worked with Paul and William for many years and am grateful they introduced me to Jamie, who is one of the most in-demand writers in town. I am enthusiastic about our deal and look forward to working closely with them.”
Said Whitney: “Jamie, Paul and William come to the table with an obvious passion for excellent material, and the access and experience necessary to pursue it. We’ve hit the ground running together, and I look forward to this being a very productive partnership.”
Vanderbilt most recently wrote and produced Murder Mystery, the Netflix film that stars Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston that had the biggest opening weekend ever for a Netflix film, viewed by over 30.8 million accounts over its first three days. He also produced Fox Searchlight’s Ready or Not with Sherak.
Vanderbilt will continue to focus on writing, producing and directing across genres through Project X. He will next adapt the Stephen King’s classic novel The Long Walk (first published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman) for New Line and director Andre Ovredal, which he will produce with Sherak, as well as Murder Mystery 2 for Netflix. Vanderbilt’s numerous writing credits include Zodiac, The Amazing Spider-Man films, White House Down and Truth, starring Robert Redford and Cate Blanchett, which he also directed and produced.
Sherak was President of Stereo D, the leading producer of 2D-3D feature films, as well as President of Post-Production for Deluxe Entertainment Services. Sherak founded Stereo D in 2009 and Deluxe acquired the company in 2011. He is returning full-time to his roots as a producer after producing a number of films with Vanderbilt over the last couple of years including Ready or Not, The House with a Clock in Its Walls, Suspiria and Truth. Past credits include Little Black Book and Darkness Falls for Revolution Studios, Bangkok Dangerous and Daddy Day Camp, and the TV series Are We There Yet?
Neinstein left his post as Ratpac Entertainment COO after selling off that company’s stake in the 76-picture library back to Warner Bros. During his tenure there, the company produced and co-financed over 85 films, documentaries and docuseries. Prior to that, he was Business Affairs exec veep at Paramount, where he structured, negotiated and administered slate financing, co-financing and distribution agreements, acquisitions and major talent agreements for the studio. Neinstein also worked closely with Spyglass’ Barber over the years, including at Spyglass Entertainment before Barber became chairman and CEO of MGM.
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