Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner have shown the film world that it's possible to combine the words "British" and "blockbuster" without creating an oxymoron. They have done it not once, but with a string of hits, including Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bean, and now, Bridget Jones's Diary. The secret? Delivering fun and romantic films, preferably starring secret weapon Hugh Grant.
New Zealand-born Bevan, 43, and British-born Fellner, 41, are co-chairmen of Working Title Films, one of Europe's top production houses. Films from this London-based company have grossed $1.5 billion in the past decade. Its current hit, Bridget Jones, which stars Renee Zellweger and the floppy-haired Grant, made British box-office history in April by hitting the No. 1 slot in the U.S. and Britain simultaneously.
Bevan and Fellner both started in the film business in the mid-1980s, but the two didn't begin working together until 1992. They came out with Four Weddings, their first blockbuster, in 1994. Another big boost came in 1999, when they struck a deal with Universal Studios in Hollywood and French TV business Canal+, both owned by French giant Vivendi Universal. Bevan and Fellner receive full studio backing and worldwide distribution for their films and can O.K. projects with budgets of up to $25 million without even consulting Universal.
That's a strong endorsement of the value of their work--and another sign that you don't have to be American to make it big in Hollywood.