Philip Seymour Hoffman inks deal

Signed two-year deal with Overture Films

NEW YORK -- Overture Films has inked a two-year, first-look deal with Philip Seymour Hoffman's New York-based Cooper's Town Prods.

The companies also have set "Unconditional" as the first project under the deal. Originally produced as a play at the LAByrinth Theater Company, where Hoffman serves as co-artistic director, Brett C. Leonard's drama centers on an interlocking set of stories about lonely New Yorkers and covers such themes as race, love and betrayal. Leonard will adapt his own work for the screen.

"It's the right time for us to strike out with a deal like this," Cooper's Town co-founder Emily Ziff said. "We think Overture is savvy about the business but also respectful of the artist, and that's a philosophy we share."

Cooper's Town has been methodical in its plans since its inception a few years ago. Its first project, "Capote," earned $29 million; the company followed with "The Savages," Tamara Jenkins' drama that earned several Oscar noms when it was distributed last year by Fox Searchlight.

Hoffman likely will not act in most of Cooper's pictures. Still, for Overture, the deal offers a chance to work with a respected and prolific actor who draws talent to his productions.

The move also represents another first-look deal after a similar pact with State Street Pictures, with which it's collaborating on the Latino holiday pic "Humboldt Park."

For Cooper's Town, the deal is a chance to obtain a distribution and marketing partner an earlier point in the production process, currently a more urgent need for indie banners given the softness in the finished-film market over the past year.

Overture execs Chris McGurk and Danny Rosett have a history with Cooper's Town, working on "Capote" in their previous incarnation at MGM/UA. Overture's Robert Kessel will serve as the point person with Hoffman's shingle.