Former Searchlight Head Nancy Utley Signs First-Look Deal With Chernin Entertainment

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Chernin Entertainment has signed a first-look deal with Nancy Utley, the former Searchlight Pictures co-chairman, and her newly launched production company Lake Ellyn Entertainment. Jenno Topping, Chernin Entertainment’s president of film and television made the announcement Wednesday.

The deal will encompass film and TV content under the Chernin Entertainment banner, and Chernin’s first look deal with Netflix that was made in April 2020 will now also extend to Utley’s projects as well.

“Nancy is the ultimate executive—smart, savvy, experienced, and kind. She built Searchlight Pictures into one of the jewels of the film business; a company with an unparalleled record of achievement and a reputation for nurturing the finest filmmakers. I’m delighted to have her join Jenno and me and the rest of our team,” Peter Chernin, chairman and CEO, Chernin Entertainment, said.

“After decades as a studio executive, I’m excited to get closer to the making of film and television as a producer,” Utley said. “My focus will continue to be on writer and director-driven projects with distinctive authorial voices. I’m thrilled to reunite with Peter after our work at Fox, delighted to partner with Jenno, whom I’ve known and admired for many years, and grateful for the support of Netflix as I begin this new venture.”

Utley was appointed to chairman of Searchlight Pictures in 2018 and joined the company in 1999. She jointly managed Searchlight’s production, acquisitions, marketing and distribution alongside fellow chairman Stephen Gilula. In her time there, she oversaw films that received 159 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture winners “Nomadland,” “The Shape of Water,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Birdman” and “Slumdog Millionaire.” She also oversaw the release of the recent “The French Dispatch” and the upcoming “Nightmare Alley.”

Chernin Entertainment earlier this summer released the “Fear Street” trilogy with Netflix. Their other upcoming film projects include Netflix’s “Slumberland” starring Jason Momoa and Kyle Chandler and Netflix’s “Luther” based on the TV series that will star Erivo, Andy Serkis, and Idris Elba. Upcoming series include the third season of “See” on Apple TV+. The company recently produced the second season of “Truth Be Told” on Apple TV+ as well as the series “Bombay Begums” on Netflix.

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