Reliance partners Imagine to fund scribe lab for films

MUMBAI: Indian billionaire Anil Ambani is looking at writing new scripts in the global movie world. Reliance Big Entertainment, the company that he owns, has entered into a partnership with Ron Howard‘s production company Imagine Entertainment to set up a "writers lab" that will employ 10 screenwriters for a year.

Reliance will fund an undisclosed amount for the programme, which will be run by Imagine co-chairman Karen Kehela Sherwood. Reliance will have the rights to co-finance any project Imagine sets up at Universal Pictures or at other studios. Imagine has an existing first-look deal with Universal Pictures.

As per the deal, Reliance and Universal have the first rights with the lab to purchase completed screenplays.

For any script that is selected, the team of 10 will get additional fee and the main writer will be given the lion‘s share.

The lab will consist of 10 experienced scribes who will be paid to work exclusively as creative consultants, evaluating one another‘s story pitches and also penning original screenplays.

Scribes set to take part in the lab are Margaret Nagle, Michael Fitzpatrick, Lee Patterson, Glen Lakin, Michael Perry, Stacey Harman, Jason Mantzoukas, Scott Aukerman and Daniel Casey. The 10th writer has not yet been named.

Says Howard, "This is an approach to screenplay development that I have believed in and wanted to experiment with for years. The creative energy and support system the lab should stimulate is something I am incredibly eager to be a part of."

Sherwood will oversee both the film development department of Imagine and also assign projects for the writers group.

It may be recalled that Imagine and Reliance struck a first-look film development pact in November 2009 as part of Reliance‘s aggressive push into Hollywood. Shortly after that pact was signed, Howard brought up the idea of a lab to Reliance executives.

The project came together through Amitabh Jhunjhunwala, who leads the media and entertainment business for Reliance ADA group. “When Ron and Brian brought this unique concept to Reliance, we immediately recognised its tremendous value and potential,” Jhunjhunwala said in a statement.

Hollywood production companies are impacted by the recession as studios are cutting down on their costs. This is forcing production companies to look at reducing budgets for development of projects. The market is opening up for new capital from other geographies, an opportunity which Ambani has grabbed.

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