Penguin Random House Inks First-Look Deal With Universal (Exclusive)

Courtesy of Penguin Random House
Peter Gethers

Random House Studio president Peter Gethers will oversee the new agreement

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Universal is taking more pages from Random House books — literally. The studio has inked a two-year, first-look production deal with Penguin Random House, whose Unbroken and Fifty Shades of Grey it already has adapted.

Future projects will include the pub­lisher's entertainment division, Random House Studio, as a producer. RHS recently renewed its partnership with Universal division Focus Features through 2016, but the new pact will expand "the scope of what we're able to do," says RHS president Peter Gethers , who will oversee the new agreement.  "Universal has a broader mandate and the ability to get bigger projects and bigger authors."

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The film adaptations will be derived from recently published, upcoming and backlist titles published by Penguin Random House imprints, as well as original ideas.

Gethers adds that his team already is exploring titles that could create film franchise possibilities: "If you look at the books that are selling the most right now, they all seem to be movie tie-ins. It's a huge plus for the authors and for Penguin Random House's bottom line if we come up with one or two books that can be turned into a series of movies."

Universal is distributing two hot projects in the next six moths based on Penguin Random House imprints. The first, the drama Unbroken, which chronicles the life of Olympian and war hero Louis Zamperini, was directed by Angelina Jolie and will be released in theaters on Christmas Day. The second is the hotly anticipated adaptation of EL JamesFifty Shades of Grey, set for release on Feb. 13, 2015.

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Random House Studio launched a co-venture with Universal’s specialized division Focus Features nine years ago, which led to the production of films including Reservation Road and One Day.

UTA repped Penguin Random House in the deal.

Twitter: @Beccamford