The partners will jointly develop, produce and finance British features under an initiative designed to create up to two or three titles per year.

Features will generally be budgeted under $15m and the studio will retain worldwide distribution rights.

The roster will take shape in the months ahead and includes John Madden’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which is in post and stars Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson in the story about retirees who move to India. Participant Media is also co-financing that project, which is in the $10-12m range and scheduled to open in the second half of the year.

Ingenious will appoint a full-time executive in London to liaise with Searchlight as the partners assemble a slate. They previously collaborated on Notes On A Scandal, Sunshine and Millions.

“Because of the turmoil in the British market James [Clayton, Ingenious Investments chief executive] saw a tremendous opportunity with under-utilised British talent,” Fox Searchlight president Steve Gilula (pictured) told Screen, adding: “This is complementary to our relationships with DNA and Danny Boyle and Christian Colson.

“We want to jointly stimulate and produce films all over the world. We’re making a much bigger commitment to UK production and have enjoyed a long involvement with British films going back to The Full Monty.

“We believe that great British productions can travel the world and we are one of the few studios able to make great lower budget films. Ingenious has a long relationship with Fox and Fox Searchlight and has invested in close to 50 films.”

“The UK market has had a fairly stressful time and there are fewer places to go for a greenlight, so this seems like a fairly natural extension of our relationship,” Clayton said.

“Hopefully it will stimulate more projects geared towards a global audiences. Our intention will be to come in on anything that sounds good.”