"The Hollywood Reporter" is reporting that Dark Horse Comics and Universal Pictures have inked a first look deal giving Universal open access to Dark Horse's complete library of characters, from proven film properties such as Hellboy and The Mask to as-yet untapped properties like SpyBoy and Fear Agent.
The deal, which was put together by Universal co-chairman David Lindle and Dark Horse's president of production Donna Langley, is good for three years and covers both production and distribution of new theatrical projects.
The official press release issued from Dark Horse is as follows:
UNIVERSAL PICTURES AND DARK HORSE ENTERTAINMENT SIGN WORLDWIDE PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION AGREEMENT 3/14/08
Universal City, CA and Milwaukie, OR - 14 March 2008 - Universal Pictures and Dark Horse Entertainment have signed a three-year production and distribution agreement that establishes a studio home for all of Dark Horse's creative properties going forward. The agreement was jointly announced by Marc Shmuger and David Linde, Chairman and Co-Chairman of Universal Pictures; and Mike Richardson, founder and President of Dark Horse.
Under the terms of the deal, Universal would have creative access to all Dark Horse characters and properties, as well as any material that Dark Horse might acquire on its own and want to develop as a motion picture. In addition, Dark Horse would have the opportunity to distribute movies through Universal.
Universal Pictures is opening Hellboy II: The Golden Army, directed by Guillermo del Toro and based on Mike Mignola's Dark Horse Comics character, on July 11, 2008.
"Dark Horse is one of the most creative and innovative brands in the entertainment industry, as well as an incredibly supportive home for some of the most exciting storytellers working today," said Shmuger and Linde in a joint statement. "Their unique connection to youth culture is proven, and we are thrilled to be part of their expanding film production work."
Mike Richardson responded, "We've worked with many studios and have had several great experiences, but we are particularly happy to be joining forces with Universal Pictures in this deal. We feel a real connection with their vision and the energy and creativity they bring to developing our properties. We are also excited by the option that we'll have to independently produce our own material and distribute it through Universal; their flexibility in this collaboration is what we were looking for, and we're glad we found it."
Donna Langley, President of Production, Universal Pictures, added, "We are very much looking forward to working with Dark Horse's talented writers and artists, and to realizing their wealth of creative content onscreen."
Dark Horse Entertainment is represented by Endeavor and The Gotham Group.
About Dark Horse Comics
Since 1986, Dark Horse Comics has proven to be a solid example of how integrity and innovation can help broaden a unique storytelling medium and establish a small, homegrown company as an industry giant. The company is known for the progressive and creator friendly atmosphere it provides for writers and artists. In addition to publishing comics from top talent like Frank Miller, Mike Mignola, Neil Gaiman, Steve Niles, Gerard Way and comics legend Will Eisner, Dark Horse has developed such successful characters as The Mask, Timecop, and SpyBoy. Additionally, their highly successful line of comics and products based on popular properties includes Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Conan, Emily the Strange, Tim Burton, Trigun, and Serenity. Today Dark Horse Comics is the third largest comic-book publisher in the U.S. and is recognized as the world's leading publisher of licensed comics material.
About Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures is a division of Universal Studios. Universal Studios is part of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi.