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Insiders Confirm CBS Films Co-President Wolfgang Hammer Move To Digital

By | Tuesday July 22, 2014 @ 12:26am PDT
Mike Fleming

Insiders Confirm CBS Films Co-President Wolfgang Hammer Move To DigitalCBS Films insiders confirm that about three weeks ago, CBS Films co-president Wolfgang Hammer quietly segued to become a consultant focusing on digital content. Among the youngest production presidents of a major company ever, Hammer ran the film division with Terry Press, who is alone at the top. Under Hammer, Les Moonves’s boutique film label went from an original mission to create homegrown films,  and became a significant player in the acquisitions game in the last few years while the original productions percolated, often with good results. Last Vegas, a homegrown film, was a sleeper hit, and the label made its highest profile acquisition when it paid $4 million for  Inside Llewyn Davis. That movie didn’t garner Oscar love in the major categories after the prestige folk music film got a rousing reaction at Cannes last year and won the Grand Prix, but it got CBS Films its first ever Oscar noms and Golden Globes, and grossed just north of $13 million domestic. That number could have been higher had Oscar voters embraced it more fully, the way critics did. The label has made other big festival buys including the Toronto acquisition Salmon Fishing in the Yemen to put itself on the map.

The label has What If opening in August, Pride in September and just wrapped the teen comedy The Duff for a February opening. One potential gem it hasn’t been able to get into production is the series of bestselling novels by author Vince Flynn featuring counter terrorism operative … Read More »

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Les Moonves Names Wolfgang Hammer And Terry Press Co-Presidents Of CBS Films

By | Monday April 23, 2012 @ 11:15am PDT
Mike Fleming

CBS Films Terry Press Wolfgang HammerBREAKING: Wolfgang Hammer and Terry Press have been named co-presidents of CBS Films. This cements a structure that has worked since Amy Baer left the studio and CBS Films ramped up its activity acquiring finished films. In his title as COO, Hammer oversaw the acquisitions of The Mechanic, Salmon Fishing In The Yemen and The Women In Black, and Press has been been at the center of the marketing and release campaigns for those films. Through her 7570 Marketing, she has been consulting for CBS Films since 2010. ”In Terry and Wolfgang, we are fortunate to have two very skilled executives, each with terrific knowledge of the business and strong resumes of innovation,” said CBS Corp president and CEO Leslie Moonves, to whom they will report. “They both possess the ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ attitude for making, acquiring and marketing quality films for a division that is small in size, but laser-focused on assembling a mix of home-grown productions and acquisitions across a diverse range of genres. I look forward to the ongoing contributions they will make as they work together on all aspects of CBS Films to achieve our shared objective of developing great movies and growing this new part of our company.”

Related: CBS Films’ Amy Baer Exiting As President And CEO As Focus Shifts To Acquisitions

Press will oversee creative, distribution, marketing and physical production for CBS Films. She takes the full-time job after consulting … Read More »

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CBS Films In Deal For Martin McDonagh’s ‘Seven Psychopaths’ With Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell And Chris Walken

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films is negotiating to co-finance Seven Psychopaths, the next film by In Bruges writer/director Martin McDonagh. CBS Films will distribute the film in the United States. The film reunites McDonagh with his In Bruges star Colin Farrell, who plays a screenwriter who struggles to find the handle on his script, called Seven Psychopaths. He gets drawn into the dognapping escapades of his friends (played by Rockwell and Walken). Once the beloved Shih Tzu owned by a psychopathic gangster goes missing, the screenwriter finds himself fueled with all the drama he needs for his screenplay, if he can stay alive long enough to write it all down. The film’s produced by Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin, with Tessa Ross set as executive producer. CBS Films executive vice president Scott Shooman will oversee it when it shoots in Los Angeles this fall.

CBS Films, whose president/CEO Amy Baer just finalized her exit to produce for the company starting in late October, has made a strong effort under COO Wolfgang Hammer to supplement its home grown pictures with films that are acquired either finished or at script stage. CBS Films began its acquisitions uptick with The Mechanic, and recently made the big deal of the 2011 Toronto Film Festival acquiring Salmon Fishing in the Yemen for north of $5 million. CBS Films also made a script stage acquisition of the Colin Firth-Cameron … Read More »

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CBS Films’ Amy Baer Exiting As President And CEO As Focus Shifts To Acquisitions

Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Les Moonves has just released a statement on the exit of Amy Baer from CBS Films: “We thank Amy for her important role in building CBS Films. Going forward, we remain fully committed to the division’s focus on a targeted slate of smart acquisitions and quality homegrown productions in all genres. CBS Films is small in the overall size and scope of our company, but continues to fit nicely with the Corporation’s premium content strategy. We’re excited about its future and to start its next chapter.”

EXCLUSIVE, 2:57 PM: Amy Baer will transition out of the post of president and CEO of CBS Films, ending her four-year tenure at the start-up production/distribution company in late October. Baer will immediately join Laurence Mark as producer of the Jon Turteltaub-directed Last Vegas, CBS Films’ Dan Fogelman-scripted comedy that revolves around four best friends in their late 60s who decide to escape retirement and throw a Las Vegas bachelor party for the only one of them who stayed single. Read More »

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Toronto TOLDJA!: CBS Films Closes U.S. Deal On ‘Salmon Fishing In The Yemen’

Mike Fleming

UPDATE 2, 7:03PM: CBS Films has just issued a press release confirming the acquisition:

TORONTO (September 12) – CBS Films announced today that they have acquired the U.S.distribution rights to SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN which made its world premiere at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival this week. The announcement was made jointly today by CBS Films’ COO Wolfgang Hammer and EV Pof Acquisitions Scott Shooman.
Directed by Oscar©-nominee Lasse Hallström (Chocolat), SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is an extraordinary, beguiling tale of fly-fishing and politicalspinning, of unexpected heroism and late-blooming love and of an attempt toprove the impossible, possible. Ewan McGregor (Beginners) and Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) star in the feature film alongside Oscar©-nominee Kristen ScottThomas (I’ve Loved You So Long).

Based on Paul Torday’s acclaimed novel, SALMON FISHING IN THE YEMEN is written by Oscar©-winner Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) and produced by Paul Webster (The Motorcycle Diaries) and executive produced by Jamie Laurenson, Stephen Garrett, Paula Jalfon, Zygi Kamasa and Guy Avshalom.
“I am so happy to have the support of the team at CBS Films for the distribution of our labor of love, ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. ’I had the best of times working on it with producer Paul Webster, writer Simon Beaufoy and the cast, Emily Blunt, Ewan McGregor, Amr Waked and Kristin Scott Thomas,” said Hallström.

“Lasse Hallström has done it again with this beautiful, heartwarming, and elegant picture. The performances are amazing from top to bottom,” commented Shooman who continued, “We are honored to have the opportunity to bring this extraordinary film to American audiences.”

UTA Independent Film Group set up the film’s financing and brokered the dealwith CBS Films.

 

UPDATE, 6:11PM: The deal has closed, and CBS Films has acquired U.S. rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen. Sources close to the buyer say it’s the $4 million that the sellers asked for, while sources close to the seller say it’s $5 million. Summit got the deal to that level. What’s clear is this is a healthy deal.

EARLIER EXCLUSIVE, 12:26 PM: CBS Films is in advanced negotiations to reel in U.S. distribution rights to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, the Lasse Hallstrom-directed film that premiered last night at the Princess of Wales Theater. Fox Searchlight, Summit, Focus and Miramax have been circling, but CBS appears to be tying down the property for a low-seven-figure deal. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from the Paul Torday novel, the film stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt, Kristin Scott Thomas and Amr Waked, the latter playing a wealthy sheik who pays a fisheries scientist to stock a stream with trout. The sheik believes that fishing brings him closer to God, an experience he wants to share with his countrymen, despite the dangerous fact that some local leaders oppose it; there is a burgeoning love story between his British legal rep (Blunt) and the stuffy fisheries scientist (McGregor) who is locked in a dull marriage. Read More »

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CBS Films Taps Scott Shooman For Acquisition Post

Mike Fleming

CBS Films, which has supplemented its homegrown slate with acquisitions of finished films, has hired Scott Shooman to be EVP Acquisitions. CBS Films president and CEO Amy Baer made the appointment. Shooman, who spent a decade at Sony Pictures and was most recently veep of Acquisitions and Productions there, will report to CBS Films COO Wolfgang Hammer. Hammer has been leading the CBS acquisitions charge that resulted in the release of The Mechanic, and the acquisition of the Daniel Radcliffe haunted house thriller The Woman in Black, and the Colin Firth-Cameron Diaz comedy Gambit. Shooman was involved in such films as Insidious, Hanna, Machete, and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. “Scott has a great eye for commercially viable, high quality films like Insidious,” Hammer said. “He also possesses a deep passion and healthy aggressiveness for working with filmmakers. Simply put, we’re incredibly excited to welcome him to the team.” Said Baer: Acquisitions are an important part of our strategy and the addition of Scott gives us new energy and strength.”

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CBS Films Targets ‘American Assassin’ To Launch Mitch Rapp Franchise, Sets Ed Zwick To Direct

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has redrawn its plans to launch a film franchise based on the Vince Flynn novel series about CIA agent  and Mitch Rapp. Ed Zwick has come aboard to direct an adaptation of American Assassin, a bestseller published last fall by Atria. Though it was the 11th book in the  Rapp series, American Assassin was a prequel that told the story of how, as a college scholar and athlete, tragedy forged Rapp’s path to become a ruthless hunter of terrorists for the CIA.

CBS Films, which first acquired the rights to Flynn’s popular book series in 2008, originally intended to start with Consent to Kill, an action-packed thriller that contains several twists that change Rapp’s life permanently. CBS Films got as far as attaching Antoine Fuqua to direct and courting Gerard Butler, Colin Farrell and Lost’s Matthew Fox to play Rapp.

Instead, Flynn’s prequel novel provided a way to start the series at the very beginning of Rapp’s covert career. That means they will tap the strong crop of young leading men, much the way that Paramount Pictures signed Chris Pine to re-launch its Jack Ryan series. Consent to Kill will come later.

Zwick is writing the script with partner Marshall Herskovitz, and they will join Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler as producers. Zwick last directed Love and Other Drugs, and Defiance and Blood Diamond before that.

“We were prepping Consent to Kill when Vince told us he was going … Read More »

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Movie Crowd Crying Foul Over CBS Films/Simon & Schuster ‘Level 2′ Deal

By | Wednesday March 23, 2011 @ 2:54pm PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films just closed a movie option deal for the young adult novel Level 2, right around the same time its sister company Simon & Schuster Children’s Books closed a publishing deal. Value of both is around $500,000, and there is a second book in the publishing component for the author, Lenore Appelhans. Some scouts and execs in the film buying community are pissed. Why? They said the lit agent, Foundry Literary + Media’s Stephen Barbara, asked publishers to sign a non-disclosure agreement before getting the manuscript late last week. Editors who do that usually don’t share the info with the movie crowd. Word in the lit community is that Hammer got the goods over the weekend, made a take-it-or-leave-it offer that Foundry and CAA took.  All before other buyers got a peek. “Next time Foundry tells us there’s an NDA, we’ll take it as a sign that the NDA is not valid and there are no repercussions for an editor flipping the book,” said one.

Lit agent Barbara denied that there was any NDA or that any protocol was breached: “I did not require editors to sign an NDA.” Insiders from the buyers’ side also denied there was anything unscrupulous, denying that S&S even signed an NDA. They said the CBS Films buy was based on a reader report from its sister company–which they share all the time–and then being aggressive. They believe they weren’t the only movie buyers … Read More »

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CBS Films Makes Franchise Play With Marie Lu Novel ‘Legend’

By | Friday February 4, 2011 @ 9:40am PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: CBS Films has acquired screen rights to Legend, the first of a futuristic novel trilogy by Marie Lu. Twilight Saga producers Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey will produce through their Temple Hill banner. The first book will be published this November by Penguin Group. UTA sold the movie rights.

This might signal that the film company is growing bolder in attempting to create a franchise. The book takes place in a dark future, when North America is split into two warring nations. Legend focuses on Day, a young Robin Hood figure, and June, a teenage prodigy who is hired to hunt him down. Along the way, the two of them uncover an impossible truth about their totalitarian leaders. The project was brought in by CBS Films prexy/CEO Amy Baer and COO Wolfgang Hammer, the latter of whom made this his first preemptive deal since taking that post. Lu will be involved in the scripting stage as an executive producer.

“The character of Day, a roguish teen outlaw on the run, has been in my head since high school,” Lu said. “One night, I was watching an old time detective movie when the idea of Day vs. the gifted teen June came to me.”

Said Hammer: “This project is a perfect example of theatrical content with enormous digital possibilities.”

Deal follows movement on the Stephen King novel The Stand, in which CBS had a longstanding stake dating back to the original miniseries and will … Read More »

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Shakeups Inside CBS Films And Lionsgate

By | Wednesday December 1, 2010 @ 8:40pm PST

It has been so busy tonight that tips on this news have been sitting in my email account since 3 PM: Lionsgate EVP of the Motion Picture Group Wolfgang Hammer is headed to CBS Films as the new COO to work for President & CEO Amy Baer and oversee acquisitions, finance, legal, and business affairs, including co-productions and creative decisions. Hammer had only been with Lionsgate for 2 1/2 years, and is replacing Bruce Tobey who served as CBS Film’s first COO and will be departing the company at the end of the year. ”Bruce got this division up and running, and established for the days ahead,” Baer said in a statement. “I have great respect and gratitude for his talent, commitment and his contributions to CBS Films. We wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.”

Hammer’s hiring follows the box office tanking of the first 3 productions by CBS Films including Faster this weekend. ”Hammer will report to Baer and the pair will work together on the division’s business and creative decisions,” the official CBS Films release said. “Wolfgang’s aptitude for innovative deal making, strong background in international financing, his excellent relationships with talent and his passion for the business of movies make him the perfect addition to our team,” said Baer. Prior to Lionsgate, where he began as VP of Production, Hammer, who’s Austrian, was at Media Rights Capital (MRC) and began his industry career at the old Endeavor agency under … Read More »

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