EXCLUSIVE: After an erosion in the relationship, the partners at UTA have decided they will no longer do business with manager Shelley Browning and her Magnolia Entertainment. This immediately leads to the exit of Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel, who will stay with his manager, Stephanie Comer. She was an agent at UTA before she became a manager at Magnolia. About half a dozen clients will have to make a choice, and the highest profile beyond Patel is Daniel Espinosa, the Snabba Cash helmer who directed the Denzel Washington-Ryan Reynolds hit Safe House and is directing an adaptation of the Tom Rob Smith novel Child 44, with Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Noomi Rapace and Joel Kinnaman. Since Espinosa is shooting a movie, I don’t think he will be asked to make a decision until he is up for air.
Related: Magnolia Manager Vs UTA, Round Two
The agency would not comment on why this has happened, but the frosty relationship began months ago and this move occurs after UTA watched several of Browning’s highest-profile clients exit. They include The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘s Rapace and Kinnaman, the latter of whom stars in the Robocop reboot. Others who have exited are Rachel McAdams and Rosamund Pike. Pike left right after she won the coveted female lead role opposite Ben Affleck in the David Fincher-directed Gone Girl.
BREAKING: NBCUniversal’s new owners at Comcast have given a vote of confidence to the studio’s feature film operation. They’ve exercised an option on Universal Pictures’ Chairman Adam Fogelson and extended his contract through 2014. I’m told that Fogelson is, in turn, in the process of exercising the option of Donna Langley and she will continue as the studio’s co-chairman. They will also keep their executive team intact. Fogelson will continue to have full day-to-day operating responsibility for the Motion Picture Group, reporting to Universal Studios President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer (whose contract was recently re-upped through 2015) and will now also report to NBCUniversal Chief Executive Officer Steve Burke.
While Universal has had its ups and downs, higher-ups are clearly convinced that Fogelson, Langley and their team are making progress. They’ve had recent hits –Bridesmaids, Hop! and Fast Five– but also had some recent misses that include The Dilemma, Change-Up and Cowboys & Aliens. In the latter case, the studio was on the hook for one-third of the film, and shared that third with Relativity Media. It has also been a year in which Fogelson and his team have made some painful decisions and let pricey productions go. That began with the Guillermo Del Toro-directed At the Mountains of Madness, which Universal developed for years and which was ready to go with Tom Cruise, until the studio made a late decision not to go forward because of the possibility the $150M film could carry an R-rating. Universal also dropped two projects that were in advanced stages of development: The Dark Tower, the Akiva Goldsman-directed adaptation of the Stephen King novel series that was to be made into three feature films and two limited-run TV series, with the first film and TV segment directed by Ron Howard and produced by Brian Grazer and Goldsman; and Oiuja, the Hasbro board game that had McG directing and Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes partners producing with Hasbro. The moves were surprising because Howard and Grazer are cornerstone filmmakers for Universal; and Del Toro and Hasbro have overall deals there. Ouija is one of several Hasbro properties the studio dropped, the others being the Gore Verbinski-directed Clue, the Ridley Scott-directed Monopoly and Magic, The Gathering. These were part of a groundbreaking deal the studio made with the toymaker several years ago, but the studio and Hasbro have re-focused their attention solely on Battleship, Stretch Armstrong, and Candy Land.
Denzel Washington is looking to join producer Scott Stuber on Safe House, a David Guggenheim-scripted Universal Pictures drama that will be directed by Daniel Espinosa (Snabba Cash) about a young CIA agent who must transport a dangerous criminal to safety after …