Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Steven Rales’ Indian Paintbrush has made a two-year first-look deal with Jeremy Renner and writer-director Don Handfield, partners in the upstart production company The Combine. The financier/producer has deals with its Moonrise Kingdom helmer Wes Anderson and also with Jason Reitman, who is about to start Labor Day for Indian Paintbrush. This marks its first overall deal with an actor-producer.

The deal comes at a time when Renner is soaring. After successive Oscar nominations for The Hurt Locker and The Town, he starred alongside Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible –Ghost Protocol and played Hawkeye in The Avengers. Renner next stars in The Bourne Legacy, which Universal releases in August. Despite his growing bankability, the focus of the deal is to utilize Renner as producer and not necessarily as an actor. Indian Paintbrush’s Rales and Mark Roybal met with Renner and his partner and were impressed by their strong business plan and creative aspirations. They’ve already fixed on the first project, but were keeping it under wraps for the moment. It is likely their sensibility will be closer to The Hurt Locker than The Avengers.

Related: Hot Trailer: ‘The Bourne Legacy’ With Jeremy Renner

Renner formed The Combine with Handfield a year ago. They’ve set several high-profile projects that include Slingshot, a Paramount film that Renner will star in and Handfield will write; the Will Staples-scripted King Of Heists with Black Bear Pictures and Teddy Schwarzman; and an untitled Steve McQueen biopic that is being crafted as a star vehicle for Renner by screenwriter James Gray, with Ivan Zacharias directing and Cross Creek financing. Renner and Handfield are producing that film with Greg Shapiro, who worked with Renner on The Hurt Locker.

Handfield wrote and directed the Kurt Russell-starrer Touchback and has sold a number of projects to studios around town.

Renner and Handfield have hired Overbrook Entertainment creative executive Holly Brown to be VP Development for The Combine. CAA repped The Combine.

“This deal provides The Combine with the ability to move forward in a creative partnership with a company we greatly respect and admire, and that shares our passion for films with an independent spirit,” Renner and Handfield said in a statement.

“Jeremy continues to work with the best filmmakers in the world on the smartest material being produced right now,” said Indian Paintbrush execs in a statement. “He and his partner Don are committed to an innovative approach to developing and producing character-driven filmmaker-focused films across all genre. We couldn’t be more in sync about the projects that we want to do together, and we are thrilled to be part of what will be a prolific and enviable career as producers.”

Coming off the indie hit Moonrise Kingdom, Indian Paintbrush next releases the Lorene Scafaria-directed Seeking a Friend for the End of The World through Focus Features; just wrapped another project directed by Like Crazy helmer Drake Doremus; and Not Fade Away, the music-themed film directed by The Sopranos creator David Chase, with James Gandolfini starring for Paramount Vantage.