Jesse Sisgold has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Skydance Productions, replacing Paul Schwake. Sisgold, who was outside counsel for Skydance at his own Beverly Hills law firm before becoming president of Business Affairs and Strategic Planning in January, will report directly to David Ellison.
“In his time at Skydance, Jesse has demonstrated a deep understating of our business and creative culture,” said Ellison. “His entrepreneurial spirit makes him the perfect choice to continue paving the way for Skydance’s growth into the future.”
He will step up and oversee operations at Ellison’s shingle, which is producer and co-financier of what seems like most of the big ticket films at Paramount Pictures. That has included Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, World War Z, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Star Trek: Into Darkness. Upcoming films include the reboot of the Terminator franchise, the disaster film Geostorm, Mission: Impossible 5 and sequels to Jack Reacher, WWZ and Star Trek. Skydance also launched a TV shingle, its first series Manhattan, to premiere on WGN America, about the quest to build the world’s first atom bomb in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
”I’m extremely honored by this opportunity to help guide Skydance and its amazing team to the next level,” said Sisgold. “We are just getting started.”
EXCLUSIVE: As David Ellison‘s Skydance Productions gets more creatively ambitious in the popcorn pictures it makes in partnership with Paramount Pictures, the label has added a former Par stalwart exec in Don Granger. Granger joins Ellison and Dana Goldberg at Skydance in the post of EVP Feature Productions. It is a newly created position and he will report to Goldberg, the company’s chief creative officer.
As Skydance continues to pursue tentpole films like with the reboot of The Terminator franchise, Granger seems like an ideal fit because he has spent most of his career shepherding exactly these kinds of films. He most recently worked with Paramount and Skydance producing Jack Reacher, and before that had a strong relationship with Tom Cruise as president of Motion Picture Production at United Artists when Cruise and Paula Wagner revived the label. Granger before that was senior exec at C/W Productions and before that was partner in Mutual Film Company. He cut his teeth at Paramount, where he worked from 1990-2001 and shepherded such franchises as Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, Tomb Raider and the Jack Ryan films, as well as Saving Private Ryan. The brass at Paramount is different, but many of those franchises are ones that Skydance is involved in. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Jesse Sisgold has been appointed to the newly created position of President of Business Affairs and Strategic Planning at David Ellison‘s Skydance Productions. He will have oversight of business and legal affairs across all company units, as well as strategic planning for the company’s expansion, which recently has included launching a TV division last spring. Sisgold arrives from his boutique entertainment/corporate finance law firm Sisgold PC, which closed about $400 million in deals in 2013 — including every TV deal Skydance finalized from talent to distribution. Sisgold also handled development-related deals for Skydance pic projects including the Terminator reboot, Dean Devlin’s disaster epic Geostorm and the Christopher McQuarrie-directed adaptation Star Blazers. “It has been a privilege to work with Jesse this past year, and we are honored to have him officially join the Skydance family,” Ellison said today in announcing the hire. “His role will be crucial in Skydance’s growth and we are thrilled to have him on board.”
Related: Megan Ellison Won’t Fund ‘Terminator’ Revival; Skydance, Paramount Paying Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Although Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures started the process on reviving the Terminator franchise, she has divested herself financially of involvement in the final two or three pictures that will now be solely financed by her brother David Ellison’s Skydance and Paramount Pictures. This has been confirmed to me, and I’m told she will retain an executive producer credit. No one was specific about how the funding of the films will be handled, but I’ve heard that Skydance will now fund 66%, and Paramount will pay for the rest. Others say this has not been determined, as the film is now being budgeted.
Coupled with a changeover at the top of her sales company Panorama yesterday, it might seem that Megan Ellison is tapering off. I don’t believe that’s the case. Even when she took control of The Terminator franchise when she paid $20 million or more to acquire the rights at auction around the time of Cannes 2011, this property was an anomaly for her. Her heart is in taste-maker auteur-driven fare, and she has become a patron saint of prestige films that might not otherwise get made. That is what she will focus on. Her efforts include recently named Best Picture nominees American Hustle and Her, last year’s Zero Dark Thirty and The Master, and the upcoming Bennett Miller-directed Foxcatcher.
For her brother David, Terminator: Genesis and possibly two other films to wrap up the storyline are right in his wheelhouse. He’s at home co-financing and producing large-scale popcorn pictures, and this one fits right in with his other franchises: Mission: Impossible, Star Trek and World War Z. Both of the Ellison siblings confirmed this has happened. Read More »
Paramount Pictures has extended its relationship with the studio’s most prolific co-financier/producer Skydance Productions, the film producer-financier run by David Ellison, will extend its relationship with the studio for another four years. That keeps in the fold the company that has become a steady producing and financing partner on the studio’s biggest-budget popcorn films. The extension will also encompass the production of at least two final installments of The Terminator, which Ellison and his sister Megan brought into Paramount just recently.
Skydance will make three to four event movies per year, and brings an annual production financing budget of between $200 million and $250 million per year. Ellison and his team are also involved in many of the projects as creative producers as well. Since the original deal was inked in 2010, Skydance has done what was hoped, which was to deliver commercial films that succeeded globally. Among the movies made by the partnership in that stretch were True Grit, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Jack Reacher, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Star Trek Into Darkness and most recently the Brad Pitt-starrer World War Z. Combined, those films have made more than $2.4 billion at the global box office. “Our partnership with David and Skydance has been tremendously successful,” said Paramount Pictures Chairman and CEO Brad Grey in a statement. “We are very pleased to extend our relationship … Read More »
RELATED: Megan And David Ellison Will Each Pay 33% Of ‘Terminator’ Costs; Paramount Paying The Rest To Bring Arnold Back
Paramount has confirmed the long in the works deal to cofinance and distribute the reboot of James Cameron’s Terminator franchise creation. Highbrow picture maker Megan Ellison spent over $20 million for the rights in 2011, and the project didn’t go very far. Things finally started percolating when Megan Ellison and her Annapurna Pictures joined forces with brother David Ellison, whose Skydance Productions has a deal with Paramount and makes popcorn movies. Avatar’s Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier have been working on the script for months. Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the title character and the hope is to get at least two movies done before North American copyright reverts back to Cameron, who might want a fortune or might want to retire the franchise. Here’s the announcement:
Skydance Productions, Annapurna Pictures and Paramount Pictures have jointly announced they will partner on a rebooted “TERMINATOR” movie, to be released by Paramount Pictures on June 26, 2015.
The first in a stand-alone trilogy, “TERMINATOR” will be produced by Megan Ellison of Annapurna and David Ellison of Skydance. Dana Goldberg and Paul Schwake of Skydance will serve as executive producers. Laeta Kalorgridis (“Avatar,” “Shutter Island”) and Patrick Lussier (“Drive Angry”) are attached to write the screenplay.
Launched in 1984 with star Arnold Schwarzenegger as the title character, “TERMINATOR” spanned 3 subsequent films, which have earned over
… Read More »
Less than two months after its launch, Skydance Television today announced one new hire and a pair of promotions. Carolyn Harris joins the company as VP, while Bill Bost and Sasha Garron have been upped to Manager of Development and Coordinator, respectively. Harris comes to Skydance from Robin Schorr’s Schorr Pictures, where she was VP Television. Before that she was an agent at WME. Bost had been executive assistant to Skydance Productions chief David Ellison. Garron was executive assistant to Marcy Ross at Fox and followed her boss to Skydance TV when Ross was named president of the division in May. All three report to Ross. “Marcy has assembled an amazing team of executives to build Skydance Television into a friendly home for all creators,” Ellison said in a statement. “Expanding our television department is an exciting step towards building Skydance into the multifaceted virtual studio that I have always envisioned.”
EXCLUSIVE DETAILS: A spate of reports of movement on The Terminator franchise is a good sign that the franchise is finally starting to percolate again. I’ve learned that each Ellison — David and Megan, both scions of Oracle chief Larry Ellison — will finance 33% of the film’s budget, with Paramount finding the remaining third. Arnold Schwarzenegger himself said yesterday during an appearance in Sydney that he’s coming back and the movie will start shooting in January. None of this is really a surprise: Back in December, Megan Ellison, who’d spent $20 million to buy The Terminator sequel rights during 2011 Cannes, partnered on the franchise with her brother David. She makes prestige films and he makes popcorn fare like Star Trek and Mission: Impossible sequels, so the union made sense. The Wrap claimed an exclusive that Paramount would be the distributor. Well, through Skydance Productions, David makes all his movies with Paramount, so it was kind of obvious the films would likely land there. Skydance and Paramount are just coming through the gigantic ordeal of making World War Z, which, despite a massive budget, looks like it will do some serious global business.
As for Schwarzenegger, he’s been attached since back in May 2011, when Megan Ellison beat out Lionsgate and paid around $20 million for the franchise. She bought it from Pacificor, which had paid $29.5 million to pull the property out of bankruptcy. The latest rumor is that Megan Ellison would make a hail mary pass attempt to draft her Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow. That would be a coup, but it’s being denied, which means either that it’s not true, or Bigelow passed already. The project has been director-less since Fast 6‘s Justin Lin bowed out of the project when it was being developed solely by Megan Ellison. I met Lin at Sundance and he made it clear he wouldn’t return because he was not involved in the development of the script. Ellison in January hired Avatar and Shutter Island‘s Laeta Kalogridis and My Bloody Valentine‘s Patrick Lussier to write the script, so it stands to reason that the film should be ready to shoot by early next year. Read More »
David Ellison‘s film production and financing company Skydance is entering the TV business with the May 1 launch of a television division, Skydance TV. It will be headed by former senior Fox executive Marcy Ross, who will serve as president of Skydance TV. The expansion into TV is part of Skydance’s rapid growth over the past three years. The company was founded by Ellison, son of Oracle founder Larry Ellison, in 2010 when he raised $350 million to co-finance movies with Paramount Pictures that has resulted in such films as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Jack Reacher, G.I. Joe: Retaliation and the upcoming World War Z and Star Trek Into Darkness. Ross spent the last decade at Fox as SVP and EVP of Current Programming. She has led the network team that oversees all new and returning scripted series, including newcomer The Following, veterans Bones, Family Guy and The Simpsons as well as American Dad, Glee, New Girl, Raising Hope and Touch. “During her tenure at Fox, Marcy has developed and produced some of the best shows on television that have entertained audiences around the world,” Skydance president and CEO Ellison said. “We are thrilled to welcome her into the Skydance family to help pioneer our entrance into this wonderful medium of storytelling.” Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Skydance Productions and Annapurna Pictures have set Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier to script the next installment of The Terminator franchise.
Her credits include Avatar, Shutter Island and Alexander, produced White House Down. Lussier scripted Wes Craven’s Dracula and directed My Bloody Valentine. Skydance’s David Ellison recently hired the scribes to write an original scifi adventure film, with an idea initiated by Skydance. Megan Ellison paid a fortune for the rights several years ago, and recently teamed with brother David, whose company finds big ticket action films like Terminator to be in its wheelhouse. David, who just produced Jack Reacher, had the relationship with the scribes, though interestingly Kalogridis also is tight with Terminator creator James Cameron. Megan Ellison is in the thick of the Oscar race with Zero Dark Thirty and The Master.
EXCLUSIVE: In a seven-figure deal, David Ellison’s Skydance Productions has pre-emptively purchased an untitled global disaster film spec script written by Dean Devlin and Paul Guyot. Devlin will make his feature directing debut. Skydance’s Ellison and Dana Goldberg will produce with Devlin and his Electric Entertainment team of Marc Roskin and Rachel Olschan.
Devlin returns to the global destruction sandbox he played in when he and then-partner Roland Emmerich sold their Independence Day spec for millions, a guaranteed Fox green light and release date, and a global gross north of $800 million. They continued the destruction with Godzilla. While Emmerich continued crushing the planet with The Day After and 2012 (he and Devlin are working on two Independence Day sequels), Devlin formed Electric Entertainment and has put together movies (one was Flyboys, which featured avid aviator Ellison onscreen), and the Noah Wyle telepic series The Librarian. Devlin is currently exec producer of the TNT series Leverage. Guyot, Devlin’s co-writer on the spec, is supervising producer of that series. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Nearly 18 months after Megan Ellison pledged over $20 million for the rights to finish The Terminator‘s humanity vs the Skynet cyborgs storyline with a new series of films, she has finally closed the complicated rights deal with Pacificorp. Other than the fact no progress has been made all this time on a script, the surprise here is Ellison has enlisted her brother, David Ellison, to be her financial and creative partner. There is still no studio attached, but future Terminator films will be done as a co-production between her Annapurna Pictures and his Skydance Productions. The Ellisons will produce, while Dana Goldberg, Paul Schwake and Ted Schipper will be exec producers.
Even though Pacificorp spent $29.5 million several years ago to win the rights after Halcyon turned them over to bankruptcy court, insiders tell me that the big numbers in place 18 months ago have been adjusted downward. That is because of the uncomfortable specter of a ticking clock that has continued to wind down as no forward progress was being made. New copyright laws allow for North American rights to The Terminator to revert back to creator James Cameron in 2019 (that happens after 35 years, and The Terminator was 1984). While that law hasn’t been tested in the courts, no major film company would want to move forward on a project with a potentially catastrophic rights crisis looming. So the original pricey deal — made with the expectations there would be three films — was scaled down because the reality is they might only get to make two installments. Four films have been made so far, the first two directed by Cameron, another by Jonathan Mostow and the last, 2009′s Terminator Salvation, helmed by McG. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Eli Craig has been set to rewrite and direct Your Bridesmaid’s A Bitch, a comedy that Circle of Confusion is producing with David Ellison’s Skydance. Skydance will finance the film. The comedy revolves around a groomsman who faces off against a bridesmaid who is an ex-girlfriend. The script was originally written by Brian Duffield.
Craig made his feature directing debut on Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil, which he wrote with Morgan Jurgenson. He’s repped by CAA and managed by Stephanie Davis at Wet Dog Entertainment.
EXCLUSIVE: David Ellison’s Skydance Productions, which has been in the middle of the recent Paramount hits Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol and True Grit, is making good on its promise to develop its own original material. Ellison has set Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier to script an original science fiction adventure based on an idea hatched at Skydance.
They are keeping the idea close to the vest. Kalogridis’ scripting credits include Shutter Island and Alexander, and she was exec producer of Avatar. With her Mythology Entertainment partners Bradley Fischer and James Vanderbilt, she’s producing White House Down, the Vanderbilt-scripted drama that Roland Emmerich will direct for Sony Pictures. As for Lussier, his script credits include Wes Craven’s Dracula trilogies, My Bloody Valentine and Drive Angry. He is separately co-writing an untitled thriller for producer Jason Blum that Lussier will direct. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: David Ellison’s Skydance Productions has made a preemptive acquisition of Bad In Bed. The comedy pitch will be written by Pamela Falk and Michael Ellis, the scribes behind The Wedding Planner. They describe it as a racy high concept comedy but they are keeping the specifics under wraps. The title makes it seem self evident. Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Joy Gorman developed it with the writers and will produce. Skydance principal Ellison and his production president Dana Goldberg made the deal with WME and Anonymous Content. The scribes are separately developing an untitled project with Offspring Entertainment’s Adam Shankman and Jennifer Gibgot, along with Anne Fletcher for Warner Bros. Skydance is co-financing and producing a slew of Paramount tent poles, including the upcoming Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation, the Barbra Streisand-Seth Rogen comedy My Mother’s Curse, the Tom Cruise-starrer One Shot, the Brad Pitt-starrer World War Z and the relaunch of the Jack Ryan franchise that will star Chris Pine.
BREAKING: Details are sketchy at the moment, but Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci’s studio-based K/O Paper Products company is in negotiations to join David Ellison’s Skydance Productions. The deal would be uniquely structured, sources say; Skydance declined comment. Kurtzman and Orci are behind some of the bigger tent pole films of the past five years, including Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen as well as the Star Trek reboot and most recently Cowboys & Aliens in addition to TV series Alias and Fringe with JJ Abrams. Kurtzman and Orci are currently working on a Star Trek sequel, which they are producing with Ellison; Kurtzman, Orci and Ellison also are working together on the Tom Clancy adaptation Without Remorse, which Shawn Ryan is penning.
EXCLUSIVE: A major shake up is taking place at Arnon Milchan’s New Regency. Co-chairmen Bob Harper and Hutch Parker will not renew their contracts when they expire in December. I’ve confirmed with Harper that he and Parker are negotiating their exits. There had recently been a ripple of rumors about this, and there will be the inevitable speculation over whether the duo are jumping before being pushed. Harper didn’t get into that, but said that he was confirming because he and Parker were aware of the rumors and were most concerned with reassuring filmmakers with Regency projects that the duo would continue to be closely involved and see those films through to release. Harper also said the decision came after months of conversations with Milchan over whether or not to renew. Recently, they came to the conclusion that this was the best course. Milchan could conceivably name a replacement quickly, but Harper told me that he and Parker will continue to see through the completed films as well as some of the projects that are gearing up for production starts, regardless of how quickly the succession takes place.
Harper had been in the job for four years (he moved from the post of vice chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment and has worked for Fox since 1986), and Parker had been in the post for more than three years (he moved over from the post of 20th Century Fox vice chairman, and had been with the studio 13 years when he took the job). They have been involved in every facet of New Regency films, including production, marketing, distribution and administering the library. Harper said it is unclear what will happen next year, and that he and Harper haven’t solidified their plans. I wouldn’t be surprised if they remain on the Fox lot as producers or in some other capacity. Read More »
BREAKING: An announcement just went out that Jean-Luc De Fanti, Jeff Sagansky and Eli Baker have launched the Hemisphere Tentpole Co-Financing Fund, a revolving equity and debt fund that intends to co-finance 12-16 films over a four- to five-year period. They start with last weekend’s The Smurfs, and the upcoming The Adventures of Tin Tin, Men In Black 3 and World War Z. My colleague Nikki Finke broke most of this stuff last week, when she wrote that Sagansky, De Fanti and Baker’s Winchester was behind the co-financing effort. They are simply calling it by another name. The new wrinkle is World War Z, the Brad Pitt zombie movie. Paramount insiders said there was another financing entity besides the studio and David Ellison’s Skydance that got the $125 million movie moving, but they wouldn’t reveal the funding source. Obviously is was Hemisphere. Here’s the official release: Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions have closed a deal with Tom Cruise to play Jack Reacher in One Shot, the thriller based on the Lee Child bestselling book series about the former military policeman-turned-drifter. An early fall start date has been set for the film, which will be directed by Christopher McQuarrie. Cruise will then move right into the lead role of the Joseph Kosinski-directed Oblivion at Universal early next year.
I first wrote about the Cruise talks last month, and it created a lot of discussion among fans of the series because the Reacher character is 6’5” and about 250 pounds, and Cruise is not. At the time, the author was among those most excited about the casting, saying that “Reacher’s size in the books is a metaphor for an unstoppable force, which Cruise portrays in his own way.” This is certainly a vote of confidence from Paramount and Skydance principal David Ellison in the work Cruise did reprising his Ethan Hunt role in Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, which the studio will release December 16.
In One Shot, Reacher investigates a case in which a lone sniper murders five victims before being captured. Reacher discovers it’s more than a simple open-and-shut case. Cruise and McQuarrie teamed on Valkyrie, McQuarrie did some script work on Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol, and he also did early script work on The Tourist … Read More »