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TriStar Boards UK Adaptation ‘The Lady In The Van’ From ‘Madness Of King George’ Duo; Maggie Smith To Reprise Iconic Role

Maggie Smith Lady In The vanTom Rothman‘s newly launched TriStar Productions is charging ahead with The Lady In The Van, adapted from playwright and writer Alan Bennett‘s memoir about the elderly vagrant who parked her van in his driveway one day and stayed there for the next 15 years. The project reunites Bennett with BAFTA- and Tony-winning director Nicholas Hytner, who helmed the critically acclaimed film adaptations of Bennett’s plays The Madness Of King George and The History Boys and directed the first staged adaptation of Lady In The Van in 1999. Downton Abbey‘s Maggie Smith originated the titular role in the critical and commercial West End hit and will also star in the film.

This is the third project to be greenlighted by the revamped TriStar under former Fox head Rothman, who worked with Hytner on The Crucible, The Madness Of King George, and The History Boys. His interest in the Lady adaptation was piqued while visiting Hytner for the 50th anniversary celebration of London’s National Theatre, which Hytner recently exited as Director. “I asked him what he was going to do for his first next act – he said he thinking of making this. I started pursuing it then,” Rothman told me. Read More »

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Tom Rothman’s TriStar Unveils First Pic Dates: ‘Ricki And The Flash’ & Robert Zemeckis’ Philippe Petit Movie

TriStarJonathan Demme’s Ricki And The Flash, written by Diablo Cody and starring Meryl Streep, will be released June 26, 2015, and Robert Zemeckis’ Phillip Petit tale starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt will bow on October 2, 2015. These are the first two films under Tom Rothman‘s new TriStar Productions at Sony Pictures.

TriStar has been ramping up its film projects since former Fox box Rothman joined Sony in August to launch the label. It beat out several suitors for Ricki And The Flash, a hot package that has Streep playing a rock n’ roll-loving woman who chased her tattered dream at the price of her family, but gets a last chance to get it right by reconciling with her estranged daughter. Shooting begins this fall with Marc Platt and Mason Novick producing. That deal came on the heels of prepping for production on the Zemeckis-directed 3D experiential film about French aerialist Petit, who crossed between the Twin Towers on a wire in 1974. Charlotte Lebon, Ben Kingsley and James Badge Dale have signed on to star with Gordon-Levitt. Read More »

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TriStar Wins Will Ferrell Comic Pitch ‘The Yank’

By | Monday April 28, 2014 @ 3:38pm PDT
Mike Fleming

willferrellEXCLUSIVE: TriStar has pre-emptively bought The Yank, a pitch for a star vehicle for Will Ferrell to play a mild mannered insurance courier who gets caught up in a conspiracy to steal the Crown Jewels in London. The fish out of water comedy will be written by Steve Pink and his writing partner Jeff Morris, and Mosaic is producing with Gary Sanchez Productions.

It’s the second significant star-driven pitch material deal this month for Tom Rothman’s division, after beating out several suitors to close a deal to finance and distribute Ricki And The Flash, a hot package that has Meryl Streep playing a hard rocking mama, with Jonathan Demme directing a script by Juno‘s Diablo Cody, and Marc Platt and Mason Novick producing. TriStar is separately prepping for production on the Robert Zemeckis-directed 3-D experiential film To Walk The Clouds about the French aerialist Phillipe Petit who crossed between the Twin Towers on a wire in 1974. Charlotte Lebon, Ben Kingsley and James Badge Dale just signed on to star with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Pink and Morris are repped by UTA, with Pink managed by Mosaic and Morris by Principato-Young. Ferrell is repped by CAA and Mosaic.

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Tom Rothman’s TriStar Plots Philippe Petit’s World Trade Center Tightrope Walk As First Project, With Robert Zemeckis At Helm

By | Thursday January 23, 2014 @ 12:16pm PST
Mike Fleming

petitEXCLUSIVE: In what is shaping up to be the first project from Tom Rothman’s TriStar Productions, the Sony-based film company is in the process of acquiring To Reach The Clouds, the working title of the story of French high-wire artist Philippe Petit’s walk between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on August 7, 1974. Robert Zemeckis will direct the film, and he has co-written the script with Christopher Browne from Petit’s memoirs.

zThis is a most ambitious first project for Rothman, because it carries on the spirit of experiential 3D films made under his reign at Fox including James Cameron’s Avatar and Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi. I’m told that Rothman got the idea to do this right when he was exiting the theater after seeing Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, and he began to think about projects with similar possibilities. He knew that Zemeckis and his ImageMovers partners Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey have long been interested in doing a movie on Petit. Rothman worked with Zemeckis on Cast Away and What Lies Beneath, so there is a long relationship there. Rothman’s lieutenant, David Beaubaire, ran point as an exec on the Zemeckis-directed Flight when he was at Paramount.

Now, the pieces have just begun falling into place — maybe falling isn’t the right word here — and Zemeckis likes Joseph Gordon-Levitt for the role, word of which just leaked out. There is no deal for Gordon-Levitt at this time, but it sounds like a career role here and the hope is to pull together the pieces to shoot late this spring or early summer, with Gordon-Levitt or another actor. Zemeckis, Starkey and Rapke produce, and Cherylanne Martin will be line producer and exec producer. ImageMovers’ Jackie Levine will also be involved in a producing capacity. Read More »

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Obama Names Tom Rothman To Plum Arts Post

By | Thursday December 12, 2013 @ 2:51pm PST

Obama-Hollywood-c__131126053020__131207184450He launched TriStar Productions with Sony Pictures in August, and today Tom Rothman has another new gig. President Obama nominated the former Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman and CEO to join the National Council on the Arts. “These dedicated TomRothman__130801222930-200x285and accomplished individuals will be valued additions to my administration as we tackle the important challenges facing America,” the President said today in nominating Rothman and several others to administration posts. “I look forward to working with them in the months and years ahead.” The National Council on the Arts’ main role is to advise the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts on agency policies and programs. It also reviews and makes recommendations to the Chairman on applications for grants, funding guidelines, and other similar initiatives. A contributor and bundler for Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, Rothman is the latest in a line of Hollywood supporters to get appointments from the President since his reelection.

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After almost 20 years at the News Corp company, Rothman was ousted from Fox in a studio shakeup in September 2012 and formally exited a month later. As well as being Chairman of the TriStar TV and Film venture with Sony, Rothman is also a member of the Board of Directors of … Read More »

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Tom Rothman To Launch New TriStar Productions Label For Sony

By | Thursday August 1, 2013 @ 1:20pm PDT
Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Tom Rothman called in, calling himself “a lucky boy today.” After leaving Fox, Rothman said he wasn’t sure what he would do. “I didn’t have a clue,” he said. “I had the same job, in the same office, with the same 16-minute drive to and from the lot, for 18 years. I worked there longer than I lived at home with my parents in Baltimore. Fox was a wonderful journey, and I went right into Robopocalypse because when Steven Spielberg calls, you answer. When that movie got postponed, I did the thing they always tell you to do. I took a breath. I got to thinking about what I would like to do. I’m fortunate for Amy and Michael’s support and embrace of me. I am getting to do what I like to do and historically have been pretty good at.” Rothman said he also played a lot of golf since January, shaving about seven shots off his score. “I went from being horrible to merely bad,” he explained. After a long-planned two week vacation, he will begin staffing up. Rothman expects to generate four projects a year, and will go at it just as hard on the TV side. This will take awhile since he’s starting from scratch.

EARLIER, BREAKING 1:20 PM: Former Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman and CEO Tom Rothman is teaming with Sony Pictures to launch TriStar Productions, a joint venture that will augment the output of Sony’s film and TV product. This was just announced by Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Sony is going to provide funding for the venture and retain distribution rights around the world. Rothman will hold the title of TriStar Productions chairman and receive an equity stake in the new company. He reports to Lynton and Pascal.

Rothman will staff up with production execs and TriStar will have its own strategic marketing capabilities but the movies will be released through Sony’s pipeline. It gives the studio another generator of product to go with Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Classics and Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions, the latter of which has sometimes had acquisitions released through the venerable TriStar banner. Read More »

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Tom Rothman Among Sundance Fest Jurists

By | Wednesday December 19, 2012 @ 2:56pm PST
Mike Fleming

I’ve heard more than once from buyers and sellers who work night and day at the Sundance Film Festival say that they’d love to leave their jobs, come back, take in a few movies and spend most of their time skiing. Well, Tom Rothman has exited Fox, but don’t expect him to have much time for the slopes. Rothman has been named to Sundance’s U.S. Dramatic Jury, along with Ed Burns, Rodrigo Prieto and several others. So expect Tom to spend his time in darkened rooms once the festival starts January 17 and runs through January 27.  Here’s the official list of Sundance jurists:

Park City, UT — Sundance Institute announced today 19 members of five juries awarding prizes at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, January 17-27 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. Short Film Awards will be announced at a ceremony on January 22 at Park City’s Jupiter Bowl, with feature film awards announced at a separate ceremony on January 26. Members of the Alfred P. Sloan Jury will be announced in January.


Liz Garbus
Liz Garbus is a prolific documentary filmmaker. She co-founded Moxie Firecracker, Inc, an independent documentary production company and most recently directed Love, Marilyn, which opened as a Gala Premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. Other directing credits include the Academy Award®nominated The Farm: Angola, USA, which won the 1998 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, Academy Award®nominated Street Fight; Xiiara’s Song and the Emmy® Award winning Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.

Davis Guggenheim
Davis Guggenheim is a critically acclaimed, Academy Award®winning director and producer whose work includes Waiting for “Superman”, It Might Get Loud,the 2009 documentary featuring Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White, and An Inconvenient Truth, featuring former Vice President Al Gore, which won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2007. In 2008, Davis produced and directed President Barack Obama’s biographical film A Mother’s Promise, and most recently, The Road We’ve Travelled, a short film for Obama’s 2012 campaign. Davis has also directed many television series including Deadwood, NYPD Blue and 24.

Gary Hustwit
Gary Hustwit is an independent filmmaker based in New York and London. He worked with punk label SST Records in the late-1980s, ran the independent book publishing house Incommunicado Press during the 1990s, and was Vice President of the media website in 2000. Hustwit has produced nine documentaries, beginning with I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, the 2002 film about the band Wilco. In 2007 he made his directorial debut with Helvetica, a documentary about graphic design and typography. The film marked the start of a design film trilogy, with Objectified, about product design, following in 2009. Urbanized, about the design of cities, premiered at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. Hustwit is a longtime advocate of self-distribution, direct audience engagement, and truly independent filmmaking.

Brett Morgen
Brett Morgen is a director and writer. His credits include Crossfire Hurricane (2012), 30 for 30: June 17, 1994 (2010), Chicago 10 (2007), Nimrod Nation (2007), The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002), and On the Ropes (1999). He is the recipient of several awards and honors including an Academy Award®nomination, the DGA Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Documentary, the IDA Award for Best Feature, and two Peabody® Awards. He is currently working on the first authorized documentary about Kurt Cobain and in pre-production on When the Street Lights Go On, which will mark his feature dramatic debut.

Diane Weyermann
Diane Weyermann is Participant Media’s Executive Vice President, Documentary Films, where she oversees such current projects as A Place At the Table and State 194, and earlier releases such as An Inconvenient Truth, Food, Inc., and Waiting for “Superman”. In 1996, she launched the Soros Documentary Fund, which later became the Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program and Fund. Prior to working at Participant Media, Diane was the Director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program and Fund, where she was responsible for the Fund, two annual documentary film labs and worked closely with the Sundance Film Festival programming team on world documentaries.


Ed Burns
Ed Burns is an award-winning writer, director and actor. His debut film, The Brothers McMullen, premiered at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury prize. The film, made on a budget of $25,000, went on to win “Best First Feature” at the 1996 Independent Spirit Awards. Since then he has helped to expand upon the new model of digital distribution by making his film Purple Violet the first feature to premiere exclusively on iTunes and successfully releasing his subsequent films, Nice Guy Johnny and Newlyweds,via Video on Demand. He recently premiered his 11th feature film as a writer, director and star, The Fitzgerald Family Christmas, at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. In addition to his work as a director, Burns as starred in such films as Saving Private Ryan and 27 Dresses. He was born in Woodside, Queens, and currently lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Wesley Morris
Wesley Morris writes about movies, culture, and style in sports for Grantland. He won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for criticism for his film and culture writing for the Boston Globe.

Rodrigo Prieto
Rodrigo Prieto is a cinematographer who was born in Mexico City. His feature work includes Sobrenatural, which garnered him Mexico’s Ariel Award in 1996 (Mexico’s Academy Award), and Un Embrujo (Under A Spell) which took the Concha de Plata for best cinematography at the San Sebastian Film Festival, in addition to another Ariel Award. Amores perros brought him to the attention of the world film community. His subsequent films as cinematographer have included Frida, for which he was an ASC Award nominee, 8 Mile, 25th Hour; and the award-winning 21 Grams. For his work on Brokeback Mountain, Rodrigo was nominated for an Academy Award®, a BAFTA Award, and an American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Award. He also worked on Babel, which earned him his second consecutive BAFTA Award nomination, and Biutiful. After this, he travelled to Hong Kong and Shanghai with Ang Lee to shoot Lust, Caution, which earned a Golden Osella award for Best Cinematography at the Venice Film Festival. This film was also nominated for an Independent Spirit Award in 2008. His most recent works include working with director Francis Lawrence on Water for Elephants, Cameron Crowe on We Bought a Zoo, and Ben Affleck on Argo. He is currently working with Martin Scorsese on Wolf of Wall Street.

Tom Rothman
Tom is one of the most experienced executives in the modern media business. He recently departed as Chairman of Fox Filmed Entertainment after eighteen years, second in tenure only to Darryl Zanuck in Fox’s history. Previously, he worked at the Goldwyn Company, Columbia, and as a lawyer and independent producer. In his era, Fox Films earned over $30 billion in box office, more than 150 Oscar nominations, three Best Picture Awards, and include the two highest grossing films ever. He founded Fox Searchlight and has overseen the company throughout its existence. A pioneer in Independent Film, in 1986 he co-produced Jim Jarmusch’s Down by Law and Robert Frank’s Candy Mountain. He is an emeritus director of Sundance Institute and was present at its very first film festival.

Clare Stewart
Clare Stewart is Head of Exhibition at the BFI (British Film Institute) where she commenced in October 2011. She is responsible for the cultural and commercial performance of BFI Southbank and BFI Festivals including the BFI London Film Festival of which she is Festival Director. Previously, Clare’s 17-year programming career has encompassed leadership roles as Festival Director, Sydney Film Festival (2006-2011) and the inaugural Head of Film Programs at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne (2002-2006) as well as various roles at the Australian Film Institute (1996-2001), including Exhibition Manager, and programmer and Committee Member of the Melbourne Cinémathèque (1995-2002).

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Tom Rothman’s Goodbye Party On Fox Lot

By | Thursday December 6, 2012 @ 10:26am PST

EXCLUSIVE: Studio moguls often come into their jobs roaring like a lion. But then they leave like a lamb. Such was the case when a kinder and gentler Tom Rothman came back onto the Fox lot this week for his on-the-downlow swan song held at the Fox commissary. “It was very warm and cordial and packed with a ton of people,” one insider tells me about the goodbye party Monday night. An estimated 250-300 invitation-only guests ate and drank in honor of Rothman, who was ousted in that September 14th studio shakeup and left the lot on October 12th. Those there were mostly Fox film employees, but also (in random order) Ridley Scott, Aline Brosh McKenna, Bart Walker, Bryan Lourd, Dave Wirtschafter, Hutch Parker, Jim Mangold, Lili Zanuck, Mark Gordon, Peter Farrelly, Peter Chernin, Lauren Shuler Donner, Robert Newman, Simon Kinberg, John Davis, and Peter Rice. Rothman’s longtime Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Jim Gianopulos — now solely chairman/CEO of Twentieth Century Fox Film — spoke first about their time together and all that they went through in their daily business. Like how Gianopulos came up with a signal in meetings to get Tom to stop talking (more like quiet down) by pulling on his ear. Jim said he noticed one day that his earlobe was longer than the other from tugging on it so much that he simply had to stop. Then, with a “gracious” nod to Rothman’s career slate of movies, Gianopulos introduced a reel. contd.
Tom Rothman Fox Farewell Party
After, Gianopulos called up senior staff (presidents, etc) and Fox 2000 head Elizabeth Gabler spoke on their behalf ”emotionally” about Rothman. She showed one of the leather-bound scripts they presented him as a gift from all the films he had worked on during his 18-year tenure. Then the assembled group “raised a glass together and toasted him”. With that, Rothman spoke to the assembled group. As always, he was very articulate and intelligent but also ”warm and witty and self-deprecating”, said one of my sources. Described another, “Nice speech. It was nostalgic, sad, but classy to the end”. Naturally, there were lots of inside jokes. In a town where a new Mercedes Read More »

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Tom Rothman To Produce Spielberg’s Next For Fox ‘Robopocalypse’; Anne Hathaway In Talks To Join Chris Hemsworth

By | Monday September 24, 2012 @ 6:13pm PDT
Mike Fleming

DreamWorks has set soon-to-be-outgoing Fox chief Tom Rothman to become a producer on Robopocalypse, Steven Spielberg’s next film. Chris Hemsworth is starring and Anne Hathaway is Spielberg’s choice to play the female lead, though the studio was denying this when I asked last week.

Here is the official announcement about Rothman, who stepped up on this film when Spielberg needed a distributor:

Tom RothmanLos Angeles, CA (September 24, 2012) – Tom Rothman will come on board to produce the science fiction epic, “Robopocalypse,” it was announced today by Stacey Snider, Partner and Co-Chairman of DreamWorks Studios. Steven Spielberg is set to also produce and direct the DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox co-production.

The film will begin principal photography in early 2013 and will be released on April 25, 2014 day and date worldwide. The Walt Disney Studio’s Touchstone Pictures will distribute the film domestically via its Touchstone Pictures with Twentieth Century Fox handling international distribution.

Read More »

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SHOCKER! FOX SHAKEUP: Tom Rothman Exiting 20th Film Group; Jim Gianopulos Becomes Sole Chairman/CEO; 20th TV’s Dana Walden & Gary Newman Now Report To News Corp #2 Chase Carey

We scooped at 3:20 PM today that longtime Fox Filmed Entertainment Co-Chairman Tom Rothman is exiting the studio at the end of the year. The brilliant but arrogant 59-year-old Rothman’s departure breaks up the longest major studio mogul pairing in recent history. In fact, he and co-Chairman/CEO Gianopulos were considered model moguls for running a studio cheaply, efficiently, and profitably – and their rivals were openly envious of their track record. Now the film biz will be “consolidated” under Gianopulos who’ll be sole Chairman/CEO of what will now be called Twentieth Century Fox Film.

The studio shakeup also affects TV operations, which will be “realigned”: the very successful duo of Twentieth TV heads Dana Walden and Gary Newman won’t have to report to Rothman or Gianopulos any longer. The TV execs considered that a slap in the face and lobbied to stop it. They now will run a stand alone unit under News Corp and report directly to News Corp No. 2 Chase Carey. Today News Corp Chairman Rupert Murdoch praised them effusively as ”unquestionably one of the best creative teams in the television business.”

Tom RothmanThough in truth this is an amicable parting of the ways, the word around Hollywood is that Rothman was fired before he could jump ship. (Memos and releases below). Sources tell us that Rothman’s News Corp bosses were annoyed that he was aggressively seeking the top job at Universal Studios from Comcast. (Not Ron Meyer’s President/COO job per se, but the long vacant Chairman/CEO gig that would also put the TV studio under him.) And he did himself no favors when he opposed the new Fox distribution deal with DreamWorks Animation orchestrated last month by Gianopulos. In addition it’s been Gianopulos who has maintained the close working relationship with studio star talent James Cameron, not Rothman, and will see the studio through the much-anticipated Avatar 2 and 3.

But probably more damaging to Rothman was the perception inside and outside Fox that he often ran roughshod over Hollywood reps and talent to preserve the studio’s bottom line. And that he also micromanaged the studio executives and staff so that morale suffered. As a result, he was increasingly unpopular in the film community. (It also didn’t help that he was the on-air host for the Fox Legacy series on the Fox Movie Channel and seen as pompously providing background intel on the making of films.)

Jim GianopulosGoing forward at Twentieth Film, our insiders say Emma Watts “will get more freedom to do her job,” while Gianopulos will step up oversight instead of focusing on international. ”It was time for a change. Tom wants to do something different. He had an amazing run and is a huge part of our success over the past two decades. Jim is a great leader. We’re in amazing hands,” one insider tells us. Says another, ”Tom and Jim could not be more different in how they approach business. Tom is very creative and hands-on but thinks he’s always the smartest guy around. Jim is more personable. He lets people do their jobs while respecting and nurturing the instincts of creative talent.”

What Rothman will do next is unknown, but an exec with his vast experience and relationships and fiscal prudence will be much in demand. (“I feel like he has something up his sleeve”, a source tells us. However, it was made clear to us today not to expect that he’ll be heading up Universal for Comcast next.) In a goodbye memo, Rothman himself said today, “I’m proud as hell of [my] run. But I’ve done the same thing, at the same place, for a long time (indeed, in the 75 year history of our studio, no one has supervised movies for longer except Darryl Zanuck himself). I do need some new challenges and to write a new chapter.”

Today’s shocker follows yet another lackluster summer box office for Twentieth Century Fox live action films, capping several years of missteps and misfires, and as a result Hollywood has been abuzz for months that Rothman was about to receive the ax. Especially embarrassing was this summer’s huge worldwide success of Ted, a Media Rights Capital movie project from Twentieth TV star Seth MacFarlane that Rothman turned down — against the pleas of Newman and Walden — and which went on to make a fortune for Universal Pictures. On the other hand, Rothman passed on Battleship, Universal’s big-budget humiliating summer loser.

But it’s also important to note that overall the film studio’s performance in recent years was still #1 or #2 for profit margins “which is what Rupert wants”, an insider reminds us. And Rothman had a great deal to do with that and the film studio’s tremendous success over the years. Rothman has supervised filmmaking activities at Fox for over 18 years.  Read More »

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Movie Moguls Talked, Joked, Mused About Oscars At Deadline’s ‘The Contenders’ Event

I hoped there would be fistfights. Or at least a chair thrown or two. “I tried but no one wanted to rumble,” Jeffrey Katzenberg told me later. Instead, Jeff Robinov, Tom Rothman, Rob Moore, Stacey Snider, Harvey Weinstein, Rob Friedman, and Katzenberg demonstrated remarkable restraint as they talked, joked, and mused about the Oscars process today. Everyone was ribbing everyone, and a few zingers landed as well. There were so many studio bigwigs at the first day of Deadline Hollywood’s two-day ‘The Contenders’ event (which continues Sunday at 10 AM with still more moguls) that it became a running joke. Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond opened up the 2 PM ‘Moguls Panel’ by saying, “This kind of event has never been held before. You realize that, if a bomb dropped in here, Amy Pascal would own Hollywood.” (The Sony Pictures chairman couldn’t attend.) The other studio chiefs came from hither and yon to attend ‘The Contenders’, and the packed crowd was obviously appreciative. ”Just sayin’ it doesn’t get any better than that. So rare in these times to have as august a group come together and discuss,” one of the attendees emailed me afterwards. That’s why our venue, the Landmark Theatre, pulled out all the stops, even reupholstering the seats in anticipation of the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voters and select Hollywood Guild members who’d sit in them. More details about ‘The Contenders’ in coming days. Next week we’ll be posting the unedited video of the ‘Mogul’s Panel’ which was moderated by Hammond and Deadline Film editor/NY Editor Mike Fleming. Here’s some of the studio chiefs’ 1 1/2-hour-long discussion:

DEADLINE: “This is one of the most wide open Academy Awards seasons. Does that make you more likely to launch an aggressive campaign?”
TOM ROTHMAN, Chairman/CEO Fox Filmed Entertainment: “Yeah, we have a lot of pictures between the studio and Fox Searchlight. But I am a contrarian about this. I think the whole notion of a race and spending is hugely exaggerated. I think voters know what they want to vote for once they’ve seen the movies. Our job is to get them to see the movies. To advance positions for them to think about. Ultimately the Academy is gong to decide. And I think in contrast to what is often said, ultimately I think it comes down to the movies. As it should.”

DEADLINE: “Can an aggressive Oscar” campaign hurt?”
ROTHMAN: “Well, I don’t know, I guess there’s some truth to it. I suppose it depends on what you mean by campaign. Academy Award winners sometimes gain a momentum because of a particular performance, and sometimes for length of career and all the work that has been done. Look recently at Paul Newman. You might not say [1986's The Color Of Money] was his best performance. But he won for his great body of nominations and work. I don’t really think, being on the stump so to speak, when in the privacy of the voting booth which is their living room that it necessarily makes a difference.”
JEFF ROBINOV, PRESIDENT OF WARNER BROS: “I’d say Mr. Weinstein proves him wrong every year.”
HARVEY WEINSTEIN, CO-CHAIRMAN THE WEINSTEIN COMPANY: “That is the only thing that counts, so Tom and I agree more than you think.”
ROTHMAN: “You have just witnessed an historic moment.”
WEINSTEIN: “I’ve said this a thousand times. The most important job is getting voters to see the movie. If they don’t see the movie, they won’t vote.”

DEADLINE: “But it’s not as good to see these movies on a small screen via screeners.”
ROTHMAN: “It’s hard to get them to see movies on the big screen. Planet Of The Apes is not as good on a small screen. Also the other thing I think is time. It’s hard because of the crush of films that all come in at the end. Voters try to be responsible, but sometimes they’re seeing multiple movies [in one day]. I agree with Harvey completely on the need to see films in the theater as they were intended.”
KATZENBERG: “We could end up with a horse against an ape this year.”

DEADLINE: “Isn’t that especially true of 3D films?”
JEFFREY KATZENBERG, CEO DREAMWORKS ANIMATIONS: “Yeah, just to sort of cut to the chase on this, we spend 4 years and $150 million on trying to make an exceptional experience in the movie theater. And use tools one of which is 3D. So we settle for the fact that many many many people will never see it this way.”

DEADLINE: “Is it best to release an Oscar contender earlier in the year and get out early like The Hurt Locker did in June?”
ROB FRIEDMAN, CO-CHAIRMAN/CEO SUMMIT ENTERTAINMENT: “I think what everybody’s saying is it’s vital to get the movies seen. In this case having the film out in June gave more time to build critical and audience response.”

DEADLINE: “How did The Hurt Locker manage to compete since its revenue cycle was over by the time big Avatar came out?”
FRIEDMAN: “By the way, I did offer Tom [Rothman] and Jim [Gianopulos] the offer to trade revenue streams.”
ROTHMAN: “We thought about it.”
FRIEDMAN: “Actually we had not completed our revenue cycle. It was not out on DVD yet. It performed massively in those revenue environments. We knew that any kind of Middle East/Iraq film was challenging at best. It found its level theatrically, but was enormous in the home market.”

DEADLINE: “Tom, would you have been happy to forget awards for Avatar as long as could count the money?’
ROTHMAN: “I guess the technical answer to that would be fuck, yes. [BIG LAUGH] Yes, we were disappointed to lose. I think Robbie and I found ourselves waiting for our cars by the heater that night, and I congratulated him mightily. But I made my career being honest, and if I said I wasn’t brutally disappointed it would be an understatement. I think it is a common problem that happens. David and Goliath is a very good narrative. It is easy to root for the little guy. I understand that emotionally. Fox Searchlight’s Slumdog Millionaire was small and won. The Academy giveth, and the Academy taketh away. We had a good year with Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan and Best Actress last time. Those things happen. I do think, if I can get on my bully pulpit for a few seconds, that sometimes I think the craftsmanship and artistry in what is thought of as commercial cinema is not always given its proper place. Hurt Locker was ultimately thought the better film that year, that I understand. But when you look down categories, sometimes I think that other crafts get swept along. I was surprised and I would also say disappointed that the hard-working creative folks on Avatar were not recognized.”

DEADLINE: “Which other of your films were unfairly overlooked over the years?”
ROBINOV: “I think the quality of Harry Potter films has been somewhat discounted. Especially the last one.  It feels like the type of movie that traditionally would receive some Oscar attention. Also Inception was a very bold movie, yet it was not rewarded for risk-taking, I do think there is some bias against Hollywood and the resources that it has. Nice when a movie like Titanic actually gets what it deserves.” Read More »

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Tom Rothman Goes Indie While Juggling ‘Die Hard’ Start And ‘We Bought A Zoo’ Sneak

Mike Fleming

It wasn’t lost on many in the crowd of independent film distributors and agents at this week’s Gotham Awards that the whole evening seemed full of contradictions. Indie film is a down and dirty, low budget affair, and yet the event was held in the cavernous confines of Cipriani at 55 Wall Street, where attendees dined on filet mignon and champagne, just around the corner from the Occupy Wall Street crowd. No one personified this dichotomy more than Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairman Tom Rothman, the only executive given a tribute award. Rothman’s roots are in the indie game, even though he now spends most of his time these days as the hands-on manager of big ticket films like A Good Day To Die Hard and readying the next installments of Rise of the Apes and X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine.

Rothman said he still has a soft spot for the indies, and he was touched by Ang Lee’s recollection of Rothman begging him not to “fry the kid” in Ice Storm, and then being supportive when Lee did it anyway, electrocuting Elijah Wood’s character in a gamble that worked out. Rothman said he felt like he’d come out on the winning side on another gamble, sneaking Cameron Crowe’s We Bought A Zoo all over the country. “I can’t recall any movie snuck like this a month early on a national wide basis, before the advertising hit,” Rothman said. He’s now  … Read More »

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Tom Rothman Pissed At ‘Prometheus’ Leak

By | Wednesday November 30, 2011 @ 11:34pm PST

Caught on the red carpet at the Gotham Awards, Fox Filmed Entertainment’s Tom Rothman swats away MTV suggestions that Ridley Scott’s Prometheus is a prequel and disses leaked footage:

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Fox 2000 EVP Carla Hacken Becomes New Regency Production President

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Longtime Fox 2000 EVP Carla Hacken is leaving the studio to become president of production for New Regency. It is the latest move in a restructuring of the company since Arnon Milchan reemerged as an active chairman and installed former Paramount Pictures production president Brad Weston as CEO with a mandate to become a more filmmaker-driven concern.

New Regency is partly owned by News Corp, whose 20th Century Fox distributes and often co-finances Regency-generated films. The move was orchestrated with the cooperation of Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chairmen Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman and Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler.

“Jim, Tom and Liz have been great partners and are incredibly gracious about Carla,” Weston told me in confirming the move. “They see this as a terrific opportunity for her, and a great way to help support New Regency. Arnon and I couldn’t be more appreciative.”

Hacken was an ICM agent when she was brought into the Fox 2000 fold 15 years ago by Laura Ziskin. She has worked closely with Gabler and developed such films as Unfaithful, The Devil Wears Prada, Walk The Line, Bride Wars, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and its sequel, Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Love & Other Drugs and In Her Shoes.

There has long been a tradition of cross pollination between Fox and New Regency (which is based on the lot). That includes Sanford Panitch (who moved from Fox to Regency and now steers Fox International Productions) … Read More »

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Gotham Awards Career Tributes To Charlize Theron, David Cronenberg, Gary Oldman

By | Thursday September 22, 2011 @ 2:09pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Career tributes will be awarded to Charlize Theron, director David Cronenberg and Gary Oldman at the 21st Gotham Independent Film Awards  on Nov. 28. That trio will join Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman/CEO Tom Rothman, who was previously announced by the awards organizers at the Independent Filmmaker Project. The tributes will be added to the usual seven competitive awards for films, filmmakers and actors.

All three of the honorees have films that are expected to figure in awards season. Theron stars in the Jason Reitman-directed Young Adult from Paramount, Cronenberg directed A Dangerous Method for Sony Pictures Classics, and Oldman is the star of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the Tomas Alfredson-directed adaptation of the John Le Carre novel for Focus Features. The Gotham Award nominees will be announced Oct. 20. The event will be held at Cipriani Wall Street.

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Shocker! New Regency Co-Chairmen Bob Harper And Hutch Parker To Exit

Mike Fleming

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 »

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3D Restored ‘Titanic’ To Be Released Worldwide April 6, 2012, Marking Tragic Centennial Anniversary

Mike Fleming

HOLLYWOOD, CA (May 19, 2011) – Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment jointly announced today that James Cameron’s “TITANIC” will be re-released worldwide on April 6, 2012.

The release, which marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic setting sail (April 10th), will present the film in 3D for the first time ever.

Written, directed and produced by Cameron, “TITANIC” is the second highest grossing movie of all time. It is one of only three films to have received a record 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director; and launched the careers of stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Called “A spectacular demonstration of what modern technology can contribute to dramatic storytelling” by Variety upon its release in 1997, the long in the works 3D conversion is being overseen by Cameron and his Lightstorm producing partner Jon Landau who produced the hit movie.

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Jennifer Lopez, Jeremy Renner, Wanda Sykes, & Drake Join Cast Of 2012 ‘Ice Age’

Fox Filmed Entertainment co-chair Tom Rothman and Fox Animation Studios president Vanessa Morrison gave a presentation on the Ice Age franchise today to potential licensees and promotional partners. Besides talking about the origin of the relationship with animation house Blue Sky Studio, Morrison introduced the cast of the 2012 installment in the franchise, Ice Age: Continental Drift. Ray Romano is back as Manny; Queen Latifah returns as Ellie; Dennis Leary as Diego; John Leguizamo as Sid; Seann William Scott & Josh Peck as Crash & Eddie. New to the cast are Jeremy Renner, who will portray Gutt; Wanda Sykes as Granny; Aziz Ansari is Walter; Keke Palmer is Peaches; hip hop star Drake is Ethan; and Jennifer Lopez is Shira, a snow leopard (which falls under that overall Fox deal she made to be a judge on American Idol). Romano and Latifah told the story of the new movie to the potential licensees and promotional partners and showed pencil tests and rough early animation. Morrison also talked about the franchise’s record-breaking success, what the growth of the franchise has meant for Fox, a Christmas TV special in November titled Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas on Fox broadcasting, a multiplayer game online, a mobile game, and a possible Ice Age On Ice touring show. Gee, you’d think this was Disney…

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Pam Levine Leaving Fox Film Marketing

EXCLUSIVE: I’ve just learned that Pam Levine, co-president of domestic marketing with Tony Sella and a 16-year veteran of Twentieth Century Fox, is leaving. She moved to New York four years ago which has been her base of operation since then. But my sources say her replacement will be hired, probably from outside the company, for a position in Los Angeles to work with Sella. ”The bifurcation of having co-heads in different cities just wasn’t effective, whether she stayed or not,” an insider tells me. Actually, Levine quit the job when she moved to NY but Tom Rothman convinced her to stay. “People have called her the left brain to Tony’s right brain: “He’s the creative guy and spots guy, and she was the research gal and media buys gal, the yin to her yang. It worked when she was out here, but when she moved to NY it just didn’t work anymore,” a source tells me.

UPDATE: I just received this statement from Fox Film Entertainment bosses Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos: “Pam is an exceptional and rare marketing talent, one of the very best our business has ever seen. For some time, she and we have discussed the need to centralize all marketing functions in LA, and the conflict that presents with the life she loves in NY. We are disappointed but respectful of her decision to continue her career in NY. We will miss her acumen, insight, creativity, and passion, but know that only … Read More »

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