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.
EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has acquired for Syfy Films Lights Out, a Jay Frasco screenplay and the rights to the manuscript of his unpublished sci-fi thriller novel. While waiting to hear from publishers, Frasco adapted his manuscript into the screenplay and has notched his first spec sale.
Details of the story are being kept under wraps, but the story focuses on an teenage boy trapped in his house with his sister when a deadly intruder enters the home, and mysterious events occur during the captivity. Frasco, who most recently set-up his thriller The Rising at Bold Films, also wrote the family film Puddle Jumpers for The Animation Company and producer Brian Manis. Frasco is repped by APA, attorney Darren Trattner, manager Dannie Festa and lit agent Jennifer DeChiara. Maybe the publishing crowd will give Frasco’s book another look.
Since Syfy Ventures partnered with Universal on Syfy Films in late 2010 with the intention of generating genre projects a cut above the Mansquito-esque staples of the Syfy Channel programming, Syfy Films has been percolating several promising feature products. They include a feature adaptation of Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin’s superhero anthology Wild Cards, which they hope will launch a franchise.
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 …
Syfy’s EVP original programming Mark Stern has been named president. He continues to report to Dave Howe, President, Syfy and Chiller. Stern also co-heads original content for Universal Cable Prods. alongside Jeff Wachtel, who, in a similar fashion, was promoted from EVP to president original programming of USA 2 years ago. Additionally, Stern will now have creative oversight on the newly formed Syfy Films, a joint venture with Universal Pictures.
A former television producer, Stern joined Syfy in 2002 and was named EVP in 2003. He is credited with shepherding such projects as series Battlestar Galactica, Warehouse 13, Stargate: Atlantis, Eureka, Ghost Hunters, Destination Truth, Ghost Hunters International, Sanctuary, Stargate: Universe, Caprica and Haven as well as the miniseries Tin Man.
Syfy Ventures and Universal Pictures have teamed to create Syfy Films, a film company that will generate theatrical films that will be branded by the Syfy label and will be distributed by Universal. The hope is to leverage Syfy’s genre experience in science fiction, fantasy, supernatural, and horror. The plan is to begin generating two movies per year by 2012.
The venture will be announced today by Dave Howe, president of Syfy and Chiller, Mark Stern, the exec veep of original programming and co-head of content for Universal Cable Productions, and Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley.
“We know there is an incredible consumer appetite for genre content as proven by the top grossing box office films,” Howe and Stern said in a statement. “Partnering our brand with the theatrical talent of Universal Pictures, a premier motion picture company, will allow us to exploit our combined expertise and resources to create commercially successful quality films that have the potential to become great franchises for the whole company.”
Stern and Langley will jointly oversee the new venture, and they are looking to hire a production executive who’ll be based on the Universal lot. The exec will find project and leverage Syfy’s creative relationships developed through the NBC Universal network that launched in 1992 as the Sci Fi Channel. and has broadened into a website and Syfy Ventures.
“Syfy has been incredibly successful in finding ways to produce compelling entertainment for a specific …