Cruise’s UA Inks Paul Haggis’ Hwy61

Say what you will about Tom Cruise, but he and partner Paula Wagner are making all the right moves with their United Artist Studios.

First they signed a deal with the Writers Guild similar to that of Letterman’s Worldwide Pants deal with the WGA, and now they’ve signed Paul (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) Haggis to an overall deal with the two-time Oscar winner writing, producing and maybe directing projects for UA through Haggis’s new Hwy61 (name courtesy of Bob Dylan’s song).

Under the terms of the non-exclusive pact, says the Hollywood Reporter, Haggis will be free to collaborate elsewhere. But for now Haggis is expected to produce two films a year with his producing partner Michael Nozik. The first film will be an adaptation of Ranger’s Apprentice, from the children’s series, with Haggis and his daughter, Alissa, writing the screenplay. He may also direct. UA optioned the rights of the series by Australian author John Flanagan.

Also under the newly struck partnership, the Santa Monica-based Hwy61 and the Paula Wagner/Tom Cruise-helmed studio have optioned the rights to the Joseph Weisberg novel “An Ordinary Spy.”

Haggis said he is hoping to create a home for writers and directors.

“Paul and Michael are precisely the sort of talent we want to be in business with,” Wagner said.

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