Optimum Releasing has struck a two year co-financing and co-production agreement with Shaun Of The Dead production company Big Talk, as part of the its ongoing expansion into production.

As part of the deal, Optimum will contribute to Big Talk’s overhead costs and their development budget as well as co-financing and co-producing projects over an initial two year period. Film 4, which already has a partial first look deal with Big Talk, will extend it to include these projects.

The first film out of the deal will be Joe Cornish’s directorial debut Attack The Block, which will be launched at the next week’s American Film Market. Developed by Big Talk, and backed by Film 4 and UK Film Council, Attack the Block is about a gang of South London teenagers defending their tower block against an alien attack. 

Big Talk’s managing director Matthew Justice, Film4 chief Tessa Ross and Optimum’s Will Clarke and Jenny Borgars are executive producing, with Nira Park and James Wilson of Big Talk as producers. Shooting begins next February.

Studio Canal will handle international sales on all titles and the films will be distributed directly through Optimum in the UK, Studio Canal in France and Kinowelt in Germany. Film 4 will take UK TV and associated rights.

Big Talk also announced the appointment of Working Title’s Rachael Prior as head of development. She will work alongside existing development executive Tamzin Cary.

“We have enjoyed a fantastic relationship with Working Title over the past seven years, and that will continue across a number of projects, but this deal will help us on the way to realising our ambitions and those of the talent we are lucky enough to be working with”, said Big Talk producer Nira Park.

Ross said: “Film4 is excited to be extending its very productive relationships with both Big Talk and Optimum within this new partnership and look forward to working together on what already feels like an outstanding slate of films.”     

Optimum has been slowing expanding into production over the past year. Its first feature, an adaptation of Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock has just started shooting. It is also backing the launch of Warp Film’s European division, which also has a first look deal with Film 4.