EXCLUSIVE: After the first three films made at Warner Bros by Todd Phillips’ Green Hat Films banner grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide, he has been re-upped to a new first-look deal that keeps him on the lot until the end of 2013. Phillips has been based at the studio since 2005, after he directed the 2004 comedy Starsky & Hutch for the studio.
Green Hat, which is working on a third installment of The Hangover, has four other projects percolating at the studio as potential directing vehicles for Phillips. Green Hat is also partnered with Silver Pictures on Project X, a micro-budget comedy which opens March 2–with a cast of complete newcomers. Green Hat is developing:
* An adaptation of the Tony D’Souza novel Mule, about a young couple that turns to drug trafficking to scratch a living during the recession. Green Hat’s Phillips and Scott Budnick are producing with Jamie Patricof and Lynette Howell’s Electric City Entertainment. They are out to writers.
*Arms and the Dudes, based on a Guy Lawson Rolling Stone article that chronicled the unlikely rise of two stoners in Miami Beach who became big-time arms dealers, and suddenly had it all taken away by the Pentagon. Phillips and Budnick produce with Mark Gordon and Bryan Zuriff. Stephen Chin (I Rock Iraq) is in talks to write it.
* The Island, a project scripted by Due Date‘s Adam Sztykiel from a story by Travis Fickett and Terry Matalas; the logline’s being kept under wraps and Phillips will produce and Budnick exec producing.
* Million Dollar Strong, a comedy based on the YouTube and FunnyOrDie web shorts by Mike O’Connell and The Hangover‘s Ken Jeong. Phillips is producing with Budnick and Management 360 is exec producing. O’Connell and Peter Kline (The Living Wake) are writing the script.
Phillips’ first produced film at the studio was The Hangover, an R-rated 2009 summer smash that initially was a struggle for both the filmmaker and the studio. Phillips was so convinced that his cast of untested leads Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis and Ed Helms were perfect that the filmmaker wagered his fee so the film could make the $34 million budget ceiling established by Warner Bros Group President Jeff Robinov. Robinov wanted to a higher budget, but only with established stars. By doing it this way, Phillips became an equity investor in the film, and wound up making in the neighborhood of $60 million when The Hangover‘s global gross reached $467.5 million, becoming the highest domestic grossing R-rated comedy ever. The sequel–for which Phillips was paid a more traditional but very lucrative gross deal–did even better worldwide, grossing $581.5 million. The Galifianakis-Robert Downey Jr comedy Due Date was Green Hat’s third film for the studio and it grossed $211.8 million worldwide.
In a statement, Robinov called Phillips “a cherished member of the Warner family for a long time, and the comedic genius he’s brought to the big screen has made for an extraordinarily successful partnership.” For his part, Phillips was also glad to be staying at the studio, saying: “I am so grateful that they will continue to provide me with a platform to satisfy my endless hunger for revenge and schadenfreude…you know who you are.”
CAA brokered the deal.