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Fox Searchlight signs development deal with Guillermo del Toro, creating a new genre label

Fox Searchlight signs development deal with Guillermo del Toro, creating a new genre label
Guillermo del Toro holds the two Oscars he won for "The Shape of Water" at the Academy Awards on March 4 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Following their Academy Award-winning collaboration on “The Shape of Water,” Fox Searchlight Pictures and director Guillermo del Toro have signed a new development deal that will include a new genre label to serve as a home for horror, sci-fi and fantasy projects.

Films under the new label will be financed, marketed and distributed by Fox Searchlight, company co-presidents Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley said in their announcement on Tuesday. The name of the label will be announced later, but Searchlight said it would include projects produced and curated by Del Toro.

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The first movie in the pipeline will be “Antlers,” a story about an elementary school teacher who takes in a troubled student, based on the short story “The Quiet Boy” by Nick Antosca. The project will be directed by Scott Cooper, who previously worked with Searchlight on the 2009 Jeff Bridges movie “Crazy Heart.” Del Toro is one of the producers on the movie.

Searchlight’s deal with Del Toro also covers live-action feature projects that the Oscar-winning filmmaker will write, produce and direct.

“As well as being a brilliant filmmaker, Guillermo is a passionate collaborator, curator and advocate for other artists,” said David Greenbaum and Matthew Greenfield, co-heads of production at Searchlight, in Tuesday’s announcement. “Working with him on this new label, focused on the highest quality projects in the genre space, allows Searchlight to expand our reach to new filmmakers and new audiences around the world.”

“The Shape of Water” won four Oscars this year, including for best picture and director. Searchlight financed and distributed the movie, which has grossed more than $190.5 million worldwide.

Del Toro has made his name in the horror and fantasy genres with movies like “Cronos,” and “Mimic.” He later crossed over into the mainstream with “Hellboy,” “Pacific Rim” and “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

In a statement, the director said: “For the longest time, I've hoped to find an environment in which I can distribute, nurture and produce new voices in smart, inventive genre films and channel my own. In Fox Searchlight, I’ve found a real home for live action production — a partnership based on hard work, understanding of each other and, above all, faith.”

Searchlight has been on an Oscars roll over the past 10 years, with best-picture wins including “Birdman,” “12 Years a Slave” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” The specialty studio also released “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which won two Oscars this year.

Its most recent release is “Isle of Dogs,” an animated movie directed by Wes Anderson.

Searchlight is a division of 20th Century Fox Film, which is part of Walt Disney Co.'s pending acquisition of most of 21st Century Fox.

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