Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Evolution Entertainment partners Mark Burg and Oren Koules are splitting after 12 years. Burg has purchased the 50% of the management/production company owned by Koules. Burg has reconstituted the company and named former CAA agent-turned-producer Michael Menchel its new president.

This brings to an end a partnership that achieved the dream of every boutique management/production company. When these guys got through Evolution’s Gregg Hoffman the script for Saw from Leigh Whannell and James Wan, they put themselves at risk personally to come up with the money to buy it and to cover the $1.2 million budget themselves. They made a licensing deal with Lionsgate but were left owning a film that grossed $103 million worldwide. They continued in that fashion on six sequels, most of which were low budget, with the last costing around $20 million. The cumulative worldwide gross of the series reached $870 million, and Burg and Koules made a fortune. Some of it they parlayed into other fright films under their Twisted Pictures banner, with many of the films directed and populated by clients of the management company. Their client stable includes Charlie Sheen.

“It’s been a great 12 years,” Koules said, “but my interests lie outside the responsibilities of the management business. I will continue my day-to-day focus on all Saw-related projects, and I wish Mark the very best with Evolution.”

As for Menchel, he started in the CAA mailroom and spent 23 years there before moving to Mike Ovitz’s AMG with his star client Robin Williams. It was that move that spurred CAA partners to boycott their former boss Ovitz, which contributed to his demise. Menchel has since been an indie producer on such flms as One Chance, Escape and Cotton. He’ll be able to use his experience in dealmaking and producing with Evolution’s production business and client stable.

“Evolution is poised for a huge leap forward,” Menchel said. “I look forward to building on the assets already in place and guide it to the next level. I’m proud to take the wheel.”

Said Burg: “Mike has the keys to the car, and we love the way he drives.”