Hot on the heels of the storming opening of Thank You ForSmoking, director JasonReitman and producing partner Daniel Dubiecki of Hard C have signed a two-yearfirst-look deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Reitman and Dubiecki want Hard C to become a "subversive"home base for their projects in development as well as a launch pad for youngcomedy filmmakers and actors.

The partners have made five shorts films together and direct andproduce commercials for Santa Monica-based Tate USA.

"I can't imagine a better fit than Hard C and FoxSearchlight," Reitman said. "[Searchlight president] Peter Rice andSearchlight have brought us the smartest and most unusual comedies over the last few years - It's our job to add to this list.

"I'd like Hard C to be a modern day National Lampoon -a name that is immediately recognised as a standard for unique subversivecomedy."

"We have spent so much time at festivals over the years,wondering why the majority of the content is so earnest and melodramatic,"Dubiecki added. "Hopefully we can add a few movies that, while keepingwith the independent spirit, are accessible and funny."

"Jason and Dan have a vision for comedy that is uniquelyclever, provocative and speaks to the next generation of filmgoers," Ricesaid. "We are thrilled to be in business with them."

Vice president of production Lawrence Grey was instrumental in theacquisition of Thank You For Smoking at Toronto last autumn and shepherded the deal. He willcontinue to oversee Hard C's production slate.

Hard C was represented by William Morris Agency and attorneyMichael Baranov of Baranov & Wittenberg in the deal negotiation. Executivevice president Joseph De Marco represented Searchlight.

Thank You For Smoking opened in five theatres in Los Angeles, New York and WashingtonDC last weekend and recorded a screen average of more than $52,000.