Dan Lin's Rideback Signs First-Look Deal With Universal

Dan Lin Jonathan Eirich
Courtesy of Rideback (2)

Rideback is already working on a slate of movies centered on the Lego brand.

Universal Pictures has signed a first-look production deal with Dan Lin and Rideback, the production company behind the billion dollar-grossing live-action remake of Aladdin and Oscar-nominated drama The Two Popes.

Details of the deal were not disclosed but it is understood that Lin, who runs Rideback’s movie arm with film president Jonathan Eirich, will bring to the table his ability to produce across various genres.

Rideback signed the first-look deal last year but it is  only being disclosed publicly now. The company is already working on several under-the-radar projects, including an adaptation of a best-selling novel, a reboot of a Universal franchise, as well as a slate of movies centered on the Lego building brand. It is with the association on the latter that were key in helping establish Lin’s bonafides as he was a producer on the acclaimed hit, The Lego Movie in  2014 and subsequent follow-ups.

The company also been on the forefront of several creative and diversity initiatives as it works from a campus named Rideback Ranch in Los Angeles’ Filipinotown district that acts as a hub for several other production outfits and an animation house.  

“Dan and his team at Rideback have an exceptional track record producing major franchises, animation, and prestige films,” said Universal Pictures president Peter Cramer in making Wednesday’s announcement. “Additionally, with Rideback Ranch, he has created a groundbreaking filmmaking community, and his commitment to cultivating talent across the industry perfectly complements our studio’s own efforts and values.  We are thrilled to welcome Dan and Rideback to Universal and look forward to a partnership in the years to come that builds upon his amazing run of success.”  

Lin has produced films grossing more than $5 billion worldwide. On top of Lego and Aladdin, he was a producer on  the two-part adaptation of  Stephen King’s It, and the Robert Downey-starring Sherlock Holmes  franchise, among  others. He won a BAFTA and PGA Award for Lego Movie and while Popes was garnered nominations for Oscar, Golden Globes and BAFTAs. Rideback also has a prolific TV arm and is working on  the high-profile live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender series for Netflix.

Lin launched Rideback in 2008 after a stint as a senior vp of production at Warner Bros. Pictures. One of his earliest jobs in the entertainment industry was that of an analyst in the corporate development group at Universal.

Enthused Lin: “As a 22-year-old kid, I started my entertainment career at Universal and was thrilled to walk the hallowed halls of the Black Tower every day. Twenty-five years later, I’m returning to Universal and feel that same excitement about partnering with Donna, Peter, and the entire Universal film team.  As they boldly innovate new approaches to making and distributing movies, we are excited to bring Rideback’s collaborative, filmmaker-focused approach to this new partnership with Universal.”