Few producers have the staying power of Anthony Bregman. From his early 1990s start as an assistant at Good Machine, he rode the wave of an independent film boom, producing “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Foxcatcher,” “Enough Said” and other acclaimed features. After co-founding This Is That with Ted Hope and Anne Carey in 2002, he formed Likely Story with Stefanie Azpiazu in 2006, establishing ongoing partnerships with auteurs like Nicole Holofcener, John Carney and Charlie Kaufman.

In another landmark achievement, Sundance selected three Likely Story features for its 2023 lineup, Bregman’s largest number of Park City premieres in any year. On Jan. 21, William Oldroyd’s adaptation of Ottessa Moshfegh’s tumultuous novel “Eileen” with Anne Hathaway and Thomasin McKenzie bows at the Eccles (sales: WME). On Jan. 22, Carney’s romantic musical dramedy “Flora and Son” with Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt debuts at the Ray (Fifth Season/WME/FilmNation). And later that evening, Holofcener’s A24 marital comedy-drama “You Hurt My Feelings” with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tobias Menzies premieres at the Eccles.

Speaking from Dublin, where he helped put the finishing touches on “Flora,” Bregman exclusively tells Variety about Likely Story’s plans to create more mid-budget-level features, how he made his Sundance films and what he learned from his Netflix first-look deal.

Likely Story moved into series production with the 2019 Paul Rudd show “Living With Yourself” at Netflix. What are your new plans for the company?

We have three types of businesses at Likely Story now: our independent specialized film business, which is the high end of the market, our TV business and our bigger commercial films [like the 2021 musical “In the Heights”]. Right now, we’re creating a development venture for larger, studio-level, audience-facing projects that are a return to the original commercial filmmaking we loved before franchises completely took over.

Because of the industry’s affection for branded IP, it feels like a lot of the movies that we grew up on and want to re-create have kind of fallen through the cracks. They’re not being addressed by studio development, which is often based on: “What’s the brand that we can market?” But where are the [new] “Back to the Futures,” the “Die Hards,” the “Aliens”? Films that feel like they’re original ideas that formed franchises themselves once upon a time, that felt fresh and have a certain look and surprise to them. It feels like when they do come out — like “The Lost City,” which basically has the pleasures of “Romancing the Stone” — they’re hits.

How are you planning to expand your company to get these made?

We’re talking with [potential financier] partners now — and I don’t know how quickly it will come together — about an ambitious slate that has multiple components to it, including a regular development fund. We’re also working with [writer/producer] Jennifer Kaytin Robinson on a specific group of these films, because of the partnership we had with her on [2022’s dark teen comedy] “Do Revenge.” That movie performed extremely well for Netflix, and it became a model of what we want to do with other genres that haven’t been updated and no one’s really paying attention to right now. And we’re working with [Robinson] on creating [an in-house] writer incubator structure. We’re also hoping to have a component where we can draw co-financing or financing for these films, so that we can have deals in which we’re partners with the distributors. We’re starting on the films that will fit into this venture with our own money.

“Flora and Son,” from John Carney, premieres at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Flora and Son” was a surprise late entry in the festival. How did it come together, and what can we expect?

It was actually a lot of fun putting it together. John wrote a little bit of it during the pandemic. He had a script that was ready to go around February, and we said, “Let’s shoot it this summer in Dublin” and put it together very quickly with Fifth Season, which financed “Eileen,” and FilmNation and John [Carney] and myself. We all put money into it without selling any territories. We put it all together with all of our own money [to] control it completely and see what we got.

It touches on a number of themes about parenting and responsibility, but at the core of it is a relationship between Eve [Hewson’s] character and Joe [Gordon-Levitt’s] character. It’s a strong, satisfying relationship with two people who’ve never met, and that is what our lives have been like during the pandemic.

How did “Feelings” happen?

We tried to get other people to do the equity plug, and they wouldn’t, so we started it ourselves. We ended up doing international sales with FilmNation and sold domestic rights to A24 [at AFM in 2021]. There’s a lot of financing that still remains to be done, including bridge money and a big equity plug. What we know you can’t do on small films is live off of them [laughs], because the economics are very rough right now. For the most part, when you’re financing films through third-party sources, you give up all the upside of them.

Part of the core of our business is making these types of movies, so we need to figure out a way to make them that makes economic sense and can keep the company functioning. One way is to invest alongside other participants in the movie. That way we can hold on to a bigger share of the profit and maintain control in a way that you often give up when you have outside companies fully financing an independent film.

What’s up next for you?

We’re doing a [comedy] series called “American Classic” with Kevin Kline for MGM+. We’re also doing a series with HBO Max, and another show with eOne and Anonymous Content that haven’t been announced yet. We’re developing a lot of films. I don’t think we’re going to shoot something before [any potential guild strikes] begin [this year], but we have a bunch of TV projects that we’re hoping will at least progress to a point where we can make them before any strike starts.

You recently completed a long first-look deal with Netflix. What did you learn from the experience and working with a company based on algorithms?

They were very easy to work with and very supportive. [We learned that] algorithms may or may not be correct. One of their flaws is that they are very backwards-looking, and people who are really interested in one thing may be tired of it in the year-and-a-half it takes to make a movie. If everyone’s algorithms were a hundred percent correct, there would be no flops and no surprise hits.

How is the finance market for you at the moment?

I think there’s a lot of fear going around. There’s somewhat of a slower pace with financing, especially with the streamers, and a lot of production financing is moved towards large projects, which makes it more difficult for smaller independent films. But it feels like when the project, cast and director are right, there are buyers for them.

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