Will Smith extends first-look development deal with Columbia Pictures

Mumbai: James Lassiter, Will Smith and Ken Stovitz, partners in Overbrook Entertainment, have extended their first-look development and production deal with Columbia Pictures for another five years, keeping the team at the studio through 2013.

The announcement was made by Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal and Columbia Pictures presidents Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach.

Lassiter, Smith, Stovitz and their Overbrook Entertainment production company have been formally based at the studio since 2001.

Smith has made or produced 11 films for the studio that have taken in more than $2.9 billion in worldwide box office receipts. Smith has starred in and produced, with Lassiter, the studio’s blockbuster films Hancock, Hitch, and The Pursuit of Happiness and Smith has also starred in Men in Black and Men in Black II, Bad Boys and Bad Boys II, and Ali.

Lassiter and Smith also produced Lakeview Terrace, starring Samuel L. Jackson, which opened #1 at the box office earlier this year. Smith stars in and produces, with Lassiter, the drama Seven Pounds, to be released on 19 December and next up for Overbrook is The Karate Kid, which will star Smith’s son, Jaden Smith.

Commenting on the announcement, Pascal said, "Smith, Lassiter and Stovitz are truly like family to us. I’m proud to be working with artists like Smith, Lassiter and Stovitz, who consistently strive creatively and artistically to make interesting, challenging and brave films."

"Columbia has been our home base, officially, for seven years, and unofficially for years before that," Lassiter, Smith and Stovitz said. "In that time, Pascal, Tolmach, Belgrad, and their team have been colleagues, creative partners, friends, and allies. Like us, they always have the best interest of the film at heart, and you can’t ask for more in a studio. Being part of the Sony family has been a fulfilling experience for us and we’re delighted to continue our relationship together for another five years."

Belgrad and Tolmach said, "Smith, Lassiter and Stovitz have achieved an unprecedented level of success over the past several years and they constantly seek new challenges and push for creative excellence. We couldn’t ask for better partners and look forward to working with them for many years to come."

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