Graham King departs WB for Sony

'Departed' producer signs three-year deal with studio

Graham King is departing for Sony.

The longtime studio producer is leaving Warners for an output deal at the Culver City studio. The three-year pact will ensure that Sony will release at least two pics annually that are financed and produced by King and his GK Films banner.

Projects that King has been developing under his Warners deal, such as the Jon Hamm-Ben Affleck crime drama "The Town" and Martin Scorsese's period religious drama "Silence," will remain in development there.

King, best known for Scorsese's Oscar-winning blockbuster "The Departed," has practiced a model in which he secures outside financing to supplement studio funds.

Under the Sony deal, King projects will be fully financed outside the studio, a distinction from his pact at Warners, where his arrangement was structured more as a first-look deal under which Warners would often co-finance projects.

The move to a deal that gives King two puts per year reflects a climate in which producers are eager to secure increasingly rare release slots; King noted in a statement that "guaranteed distribution for our films" was a virtue of the Sony pact.

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group spearheaded the deal. The pact marks one of the first overall deals for the unit, which has been active in boarding single pictures either after completion or at various stages of production.

King, known for making studio-level crime thrillers and period dramas, also counts "Blood Diamond" and "The Aviator" among his credits. He is behind Apparition's upcoming English romance "The Young Victoria" and Warners' soon-to-be-released cop drama "Edge of Darkness," which marks Mel Gibson's return to acting.