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Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald Form New Joint Venture With Image Nation (Exclusive)

The "Men in Black" producers build on a relation with the Abu Dhabi-based production company that began in 2009.

Veteran producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald have formed a new joint venture, Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation, with Image Nation, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media.

With the formation of the new company, chief executive Marc Resteghini‘s contract has been renewed, and Leigh Kittay, formerly of J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company, has joined the company as a creative executive.

As studios cut back on their producing deals, veteran producers are looking for other sources of support. The husband-and-wife producing team – Sony releases their Men in Black III on May 25 – saw their first-look deal with DreamWorks end in January.

But beginning in 2009, they had begun working with what was then called Imagenation Abu Dhabi, which provided them with a $10 million revolving development fund. The new joint venture, announced by Parkes and MacDonald along with Mohammed Al Mubarak and Michael Garin of Image Nation, builds on that fund by providing overhead and giving the producers the discretionary ability to develop, acquire and produce projects. Under the three-year deal, Image Nation or one of its associated companies like Hyde Park or Participant has the first right to come aboard as production partners, although the producers also expect to work with other independent companies and even studios when they set up projects.

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The deal also allows the two producers to focus on developing material even when it’s likely to lead to the sort of mid-range budgeted movies that the studios no longer favor.

"This gives us complete flexibility,” Parkes said. “The only thing about our industry that is certain is that we are in the midst of an unprecedented sea-change. The one constant that remains is story. We have always put most of our energy into the discovery, acquisition or creation of ideas that, in the hands of great writers, can become screenplays strong enough to attract great talent; the support we have from Image Nation will allow us to do that with renewed focus."

Two projects developed through the fund are already moving forward: The Fall Guy, an action film directed by Martin Campbell from writers Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller, which will be co-financed by Studio Canal; and Foresaken, a thriller written by Kenny Golde, directed by Jean-Luc Herbulot and financed by Studio Canal and Hyde Park. 

Other projects the new banner is developing include Deep Cover, a comedy that John McDonagh (The Guard) will rewrite and direct; Other Desert Cities, an adaptation of Jon Robin Baitz‘s play about a political family; Keeping Up with the Joneses, a comedy written by Mike Lesieur (You, Me and Dupree); Untitled India Project, based on The Basement Room by Graham Green; and Museum of Supernatural History, which Stentz and Miller are adapting from Ernest Lupinacci’s website and which will be produced in partnership with DreamWorks.

Image Nation chairman Al Mubarak said, "Fostering and supporting new talent is what Image Nation and Parkes + MacDonald are both about.  Together we expect to supply Hollywood with movies they’ll want to make and moviegoers with films they’ll want to see."