M. Night Shyamalan and Media Rights Capital recently formed the Night Chronicles, a new production/financing partnership planned to release one film per year for three years.
Shyamalan will produce but not direct, marking the first time he will produce a film he didn’t write and helm. Shyamalan will create the stories and ideas for the films and pick the writers and directors; MRC will finance.
Shyamalan and MRC will co-own the copyrights and retain artistic control.
Two factors in particular attracted MRC to the filmmaker: Shyamalan typically generates more movie ideas than he can execute, since he writes, directs, produces and often acts in the films he makes. And he has a track record of bringing his films in on budget.
The new venture marks the first major deal for Tory Metzger since she left CAA to become prexy of MRC Films, and she expects that Shyamalan will be very hands-on with the Night Chronicles product.
“These films will be based on ideas in keeping with what has made Night so successful, and has made him unique to his time,” Metzger told Daily Variety. MRC will set up each project for distribution when Metzger and co-CEOs Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu feel it’s best for the film.The projects aren’t formalized, and no writers have yet been hired, but Shyamalan has at least two ideas that could become films. The Night Chronicles will be based near Philadelphia, where the filmmaker lives and works. To oversee development, MRC has hired Ashwin Rajan, a veteran UTA agent who is Shyamalan’s cousin.
The MRC deal is the second Shyamalan has made recently that gives him a copyright ownership stake. His pact with India-based entertainment company UTV on “The Happening” gave Shyamalan a 25% ownership stake in the negative; that inventive deal gave the director his usual upfront fee but traded his first-dollar gross participation for an ownership stake and 50% of the film’s revenue stream, once 20th Century Fox and UTV recouped budget and P&A costs.
While the film hasn’t performed as strongly as some of Shyamalan’s past hits, “The Happening” cost around $50 million and is about to cross $150 million in worldwide gross. Shyamalan is in Japan to promote the film’s opening there.
“Filmmakers have always been my inspiration,” Shyamalan said in a statement. “Working with the next wave of innovative filmmakers will teach me many things that I can bring to my own writing/directing and give my stories the opportunity to be brought to the screen in a stunning way.”
Shyamalan next directs “The Last Airbender,” a live-action adaptation of the Nickelodeon property. Paramount has skedded the film for release on July 2, 2010.
MRC is in the midst of its most ambitious film slate since launching. The company has completed production on a half-dozen films ranging from the Robert Rodriguez-directed “Shorts” to “The Other Side of the Truth,” which Ricky Gervais co-wrote and co-directed with Matthew Robinson, and has a handful of projects in the pipeline.
MRC also recently launched its TV production slate that includes programming a Sunday-night primetime block for CW and has hatched digital projects that include an original animated series creation by “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane that will be distributed by Google and YouTube.