Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: In a move that signals billionaire Steven Rales’ intent to step up his output of auteur-driven prestige films, he has hired Mark Roybal to become president of production of his Indian Paintbrush banner. Roybal spent the last 14 years working for producer Scott Rudin, the last 5 as Rudin’s president of production. During that run, Roybal was executive producer of the Oscar-winning No Country for Old Men and a producer on Doubt and brought in such projects as Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the Rudin-produced 9/11-themed drama which will go into production early next year with Stephen Daldry directing Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks.

Rales, an industrialist who regularly makes the Forbes list of richest men in America, started the Santa Monica-based Indian Paintbrush in 2006. The company has made an overhead deal with Up in the Air director Jason Reitman’s Right of Way banner, and has produced the Wes Anderson-directed The Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Darjeeling Limited, both produced by Rudin. Indian Paintbrush just co-financed with Paramount Jeff Who Lives at Home, which is directed by Cyrus helmers Jay and Mark Duplass and stars Jason Segel and Ed Helms.

Roybal’s mandate: be aggressive in acquiring filmmaker-driven properties on the ground floor and turn them into films that Indian Paintbrush will either fully finance or co-finance with studios. The disappearance of studio specialty shingles has created a need for new players. Studios want these pictures, particularly around Oscar time, but they don’t want to finance them. Rales becomes more active at a time when the prestige scene is reestablishing itself, and coming off an encouraging market at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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