Less than three weeks after veteran USA Network exec Bill McGoldrick took over as head of development at NBCU sibling Syfy comes word that the network and Universal are refocusing Syfy Films. SVP Production Gregory Noveck’s contract is up, and he is exiting the company, as is Syfy Films Director of Development Joshua Banta, NBCUniversal reps said tonight. Noveck, a former SVP Creative Affairs at DC Comics, joined Syfy Films in May 2011, less than six months after the unit was created to develop and produce Syfy-branded theatrical features to be distributed by Universal. The original plan was to release one or two films a year, mining the genres of science fiction, fantasy, supernatural and horror. The unit has yet to produce a film but has made acquisitions including Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s superhero anthology Wild Cards — its first rights buy, in October 2011 — and more recently the sci-fi thriller Lights Out. The NBCU rep wouldn’t elaborate on plans for Syfy Films, but McGoldrick’s new gig includes overseeing theatrical development for the unit, in partnership with Universal.
Syfy Films, the company created by Syfy Ventures and Universal Pictures, has acquired rights to Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s superhero anthology Wild Cards with an eye on launching a franchise. The successful sci-fi book series was first published in 1987 and is based on stories by several writers; one of those scribes, Melinda Snodgrass, has been tapped write the feature screenplay. Martin and Snodgrass will executive produce. The deal marks the first for Syfy Films, which launched in December with plans to make two movies a year by 2012 and hired former DC Comics exec Gregory Noveck in May as SVP Production. “Wild Cards presents a terrific franchise opportunity given the volume of material from this compelling fantasy series,” Noveck said in the release announcing the deal. In Wild Cards, the superheroes live in a shared universe in which different authors contribute new characters and storylines. Martin and Snodgrass were among the authors that included Roger Zelazny, Walter Jon Williams and more recently Cherie Priest and Paul Cornell. The books have also been adapted into comic books and role-playing games.
2ND UPDATE: Universal Pictures co-chairman Donna Langley felt that Gregory Noveck was a self-starter who’ll be able to get Syfy Films up and running quick enough to have a couple of films ready for release in 2012. Now, the studio isn’t looking for the division to make feature versions of Mansquito or Sharktopus, Piranhaconda or Snowmageddon, some of the pics being programmed for the network. The model will be more in the Paranormal Activity mode, or Syfy projects like Battlestar Galactica and the miniseries Taken, with Noveck taking advantage of being able to make films in the $15 million-$25 million budget range.
From a distance, it didn’t seem as though Noveck was able to get DC Comics’ film productions going beyond the Batman and Superman franchises. But Syfy president Mark Stern said the network collaborated with him on TV projects and that he worked closely on Batman, Watchmen and the Green Lantern franchises. “If we had to write a resume for the job, we couldn’t have done better than Gregory’s resume,” Stern said. “He’s a self-starter, thinks outside the box and captures what we want to do here. That is to exploit our expertise in the genre and make films with a certain scrappiness and entrepreneurial attitude.”
UPDATE: Universal Pictures has confirmed Gregory Noveck’s appointment. Release below the original break of the story.
BREAKING: Greg Noveck, most recently the top guy at Warner Bros and its DC Comics, is about to be named head of Syfy Films, the feature …
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that an internal memo just went out at DC Entertainment announcing that Gregory Noveck will be transitioning out of his job over the next three months. He’ll be resuming his producing career. Noveck spent the past 6 years with DC Comics as SVP of creative affairs, hired by president/publisher Paul Levitz to help mine the library of DC properties for movie and other media adaptation until Diane Nelson took over the newly created DC Entertainment last September to better integrate DC’s theatrical and TV releases with Warner Bros.
Noveck was most hands-on with the DC Universe line of direct-to-video animation, and also the production of the Secret Origin: The Story Of DC Comics documentary, and, most notably, the upcoming film Red. He’s an executive producer on that Summit Entertainment release this October adapted to the big screen from Warren Ellis’ and Cully Hamner’s comic book.