Universal Pictures has struck a worldwide production and distribution deal with Dark Horse Entertainment, the film branch of Dark Horse Comics. In addition to providing a studio for all Dark Horse material, the three-year agreement gives Universal creative access to all Dark Horse characters and properties as well as any additional material acquired by Dark Horse.

Dark Horse Entertainment was founded in 1992 and has since been responsible for such films as The Mask, Timecop, Mystery Men and Hellboy. The company’s next release, and first film distributed by Universal, will be Hellboy II: The Golden Army, directed by Hollywood’s new golden boy of fantasy Guillermo del Toro.

Also included in the agreement is a stipulation allowing Dark Horse to independently produce films to then be distributed by Universal. This aspect of the agreement is particularly exciting to Dark Horse president and founder Mike Richardson, who remarked, “We are excited by the option that we’ll have to independently produce our own material and distribute it through Universal; their flexibility in this collaboration is what we were looking for, and we’re glad we found it.”