Escape Artists ramp up for pics, Sony deal

4:00 AM PST 01/15/2008 by Leslie SImmons, Kimberly Nordyke

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Lance Johnson has been promoted to vp production at Escape Artists, which is gearing up to start shooting two films for Sony's Columbia Pictures in March.

Sony-based Escape also is in the process of renewing its two-year, first-look deal with the studio.

Johnson joined the company in 2000 as an intern and moved up the ranks, most recently as director of development. Filling Johnson's post are Chris Coggins and Lacy Boughn.

In his new position, Johnson will take on more responsibilities overseeing current projects and will work with Coggins in finding new material to develop. The two will report to Escape Artists partners and producers Steve Tisch, Todd Black and Jason Blumenthal.

"We've gotten to the place where we're busy enough that we needed someone to oversee development," Blumenthal said. "Todd and I and Steve can go off and make these movies and know the development of the company is in good hands with Lance and Chris."

Escape has three projects expected to start filming soon.

Tony Scott's remake of the action movie "The Taking of Pelham 123," starring Denzel Washington and John Travolta, starts filming for Columbia in late February or early March. Also at Columbia, Escape and Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment will start filming March 10 on Gabriele Muccino's drama "Seven Pounds," starring Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson and Barry Pepper.

Escape's third project is the thriller "Knowing," starring Nicolas Cage and directed by Alex Proyas. Summit Entertainment is fully financing and distributing the movie, which begins shooting March 25 in Australia.
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