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Utley and her newly launched production company, Lake Ellyn Entertainment, has signed a first-look deal with Chernin Entertainment. The pact calls for Utley to produce film and TV content for Chernin’s prolific production company.
Chernin Entertainment president of film and television Jenno Topping announced the news. Terms were not disclosed.
Peter Chernin knew Utley when working at News Corp. and overseeing the 20th Century Fox film empire, which included Searchlight.
“Nancy is the ultimate executive—smart, savvy, experienced, and kind. She built Searchlight Pictures into one of the jewels of the film business; a company with an unparalleled record of achievement and a reputation for nurturing the finest filmmakers. I’m delighted to have her join Jenno and me and the rest of our team,” Chernin said in a statement.
Added Utley, “After decades as a studio executive, I’m excited to get closer to the making of film and television as a producer. My focus will continue to be on writer and director-driven projects with distinctive authorial voices.”
Chernin Entertainment has a first-look deal with Netflix that will now extend to Utley’s projects. Chernin’s company and the streamer struck their arrangement in April 2020; this summer, Chernin’s popular Fear Street trilogy debuted on the streamer.
Utley served for years as co-president of Fox Searchlight alongside Steve Gilula. They were named co-chairman in 2018, a title they kept following the Disney-Fox merger (the specialty label is now known as Searchlight Pictures.) The duo departed in April of this year.
During her tenure, Searchlight tiles amassed 159 Oscar nominations, including best picture winners Nomadland — last year’s winner — The Shape of Water, 12 Years a Slave, Birdman and Slumdog Millionaire.
Other classic Searchlight tiles include Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Descendants, Boys Don’t Cry and Sideways, to name a few.
Utley was also in the Wes Anderson business, helping to shepherd such films as The Grand Budapest Hotel and, most recently, The French Dispatch, which finally opened in theaters this past weekend to stellar numbers.
Chernin Entertainment’s upcoming film projects include Slumberland and Luther for Netflix. Upcoming series include the third season of See on Apple TV+.
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