Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Marc Abraham and Eric Newman are dissolving Strike Entertainment after an 11-year run as a Universal-based production company. The Universal first-look deal falls by the wayside this spring, and this ends a 15-year tenure at the studio for Abraham and Newman; Abraham previously partnered with Charlie Lyons and Army Bernstein in Beacon Communications, and Newman was a key executive there.

Abraham and Newman said the partnership simply ran its course and that the parting is amicable. They will continue to work together on a bunch of projects they still have percolating under the Strike banner, but they have differing ambitions.

Basically, Newman wants to continue to be a prolific producer. Abraham, who started as a writer and then made his directing debut on Flash Of Genius, the 2008 film that starred Greg Kinnear as the creator of the intermittent windshield wiper as he waged a long bitter battle against the major automakers that appropriated his invention. Abraham wants to focus his time on writing and directing, and plans to next direct I Saw The Light, a film about country music legend Hank Williams.

“I never really wanted to be a movie producer, I started as a writer and that means the most to me,” Abraham told me. “This brought me a lot of good opportunities, but at a certain point, you realize you are living in a system that has gotten more and more generic and you’re not even the guy who comes up with the stuff anymore. There is security in a studio deal and good dough to be made, but under it all, you’re always asking for permission, always working it. I don’t want to do that anymore. This is strangely liberating. I started as a sports writer and writing is my passion and I want to get back to that. Eric and I still talk every day and we’ve got a lot of things we’ll still playing with.”

As for Newman, he’ll launch a company soon, and has moved into TV as well. His first show, Hemlock Grove, will begin appearing on Netflix in April, and he has a second show with the pay service. Narcos is a drama about the drug war in South America that Newman’s doing with Jose Padilha, who before helming the Strike-produced Robocop remake for MGM and Sony had his breakout with the film series Elite Squad, an edgy chronicle of law and order battles with drug gangs in Brazil. Newman put both shows together and brought them to Netflix in partnership with Gaumont.

Strike films done with Universal include the Dawn Of The Dead remake, The Rundown, Children Of Men, The Thing and most recently Man With The Iron Fists. Like most studio-based producers, they’ve done a high volume of films outside their deal. That has included In Time for Fox/New Regency (which grossed $170 million worldwide),  and The Last Exorcism with Studio Canal (which grossed $68M on a budget of less than $2 million). Next up for the company is Padilha’s re-imagining of Robocop for MGM and Sony, which will be released early next year.

The pair remain active together on such Universal projects as the Matt Reeves-directed They Live, the remake of The Creature From The Black Lagoon, and Dante’s Inferno. They also have Magic Kingdom at Disney with Jon Favreau; Triborder, Jose Padilha’s post-Robocop project at MGM; and Angel Of Death. Latter is with Studio Canal, and its among of number of projects with the French production house.

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