Overture inks with Bender

First prod'n deal for indie distrib

New indie distributor Overture Films has forged a two-year, first-look deal with Lawrence Bender Prods., its first production pact since the company launched in the fall.

Overture CEO Chris McGurk, who announced the deal with COO Danny Rosett, had been discussing the deal with Bender for more than six months. He said his development team had a meeting with Bender on Monday to discuss four potential projects. All will be budgeted at less than $30 million.

Overture plans to start production on two to four features with Bender before the deal ends and hopes to begin principal photography on the first project in the second half of this year.

"We'd hope to be in business with him 10 years from now," McGurk said, citing the wide range of genres on Bender's résumé that his company hopes to emulate.

McGurk began working with Bender while overseeing Miramax Films for the Walt Disney Co. Bender is the producer behind such Quentin Tarantino-directed Miramax hits as "Pulp Fiction," "Reservoir Dogs" and the "Kill Bill" films, along with "Good Will Hunting" and "A Price Above Rubies." He also has produced such studio fare as "Anna and the King" and "The Mexican" and recently produced one of his biggest indie hits, the Oscar-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

The pact will help Overture meet its goal of releasing eight films next year, eventually ramping up to 10-12 films annually.