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Adam Sandler's Comedic Western Moves From Sony to Paramount (Exclusive)

Adam Sandler
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Sandler and his Happy Madison production company have been favored Sony producers for years but the studio is said to be under financial constraints.

Adam Sandler has moved what is likely to be his next film from Sony Pictures to Paramount Pictures, as the longtime Sony favorite sought a deal elsewhere with his home studio operating under fiscal constraints.

The film, which was in development at Sony, is a comedic Western called Ridiculous 6 and likely will follow the Grown-Ups sequel that opens in July 2013. Paramount is aiming for a spring production start and a release date over spring break in 2014.

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Sandler and his Happy Madison production company have been favored Sony producers for years. While the actor-producer has made films for other studios from time to time — notably 2007's I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Judd Apatow's 2009 dramedy Funny People for Universal, and Disney's 2008 family comedy Bedtime Stories — he has enjoyed a string of box-office hits at Sony, from Grown Ups to You Don't Mess with the Zohan to Paul Blart: Mall Cop, which Sandler produced.

Sandler's last few movies haven't reached mega-grosser status — June's R-rated That's My Boy grossed just $57 million worldwide for Sony — but he is stil considered a valuable asset to the studio.

But now multiple sources tell THR that Sony Pictures is under financial constraints for months to come and the studio has been forced to redo deals with its major producers. Leading agency sources confirm, as one stated, that the studio “is actively seeking partners, divesting and abandoning specific projects.”

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Sources say the austerity has been challenging for studio chief Amy Pascal, who long has been known for strong talent relationships. Sony declined to comment.

THR reported on Wednesday that Sony had brought in Fox to co-finance and distribute internationally George Clooney's World War II drama Monuments Men. AClooney in 2009 moved his production company from longtime home Warner Bros. to Sony, but sources say the studio informed Clooney it could not finance the film as planned and the project was shopped to other studios. The movie, about a scheme to protect art from Hitler’s henchmen, initially was budgeted at about $80 million, according to a knowledgeable source. That number was shaved down to the high sixties, and Sony ultimately held onto an interest in the project and will share distribution with Fox, as THR previously reported.

THR also reported Wednesday that Zero Dark Thirty, Sony's big awards contender from director Kathryn Bigelow, might push its wide release from the previously-announced December date until January, though sources say a final decision has not been reached. The film would only open in New York and Los Angeles on Dec. 19 and expand out from there until its wide break on Jan. 11 -- one day after Oscar nominations are annouced.

Sandler has a longstanding relationship with Paramount's executive leadership (the studio released his 2005 comedy The Longest Yard, among others). 

Email: Kim.Masters@thr.com

Twitter: @KimMasters