Jon Peters, half of the producing team Sony Corp. lured away from Warner Bros. in 1989 for a reported $ 200 million, agreed to return to the Burbank studio for nary a penny.
Peters Entertainment signed a long-term deal with WB, capping a sometimes stormy five-year relationship with Sony. And for Sony, Peters’ reunion with Warner Bros. closes a difficult chapter in its foray into motion pictures, having spent hugely on Peters and not releasing a Peters-produced pic yet.
Peters joined the studio with longtime producing partnerPeter Guber, who recently reupped as chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
The Peters/WB deal had been widely rumored for weeks and gained momentum last month when Sony changed the terms of its arrangement with Peters to non-exclusive. The switch gave Peters a chance to rejoin his close friend, WB prexy Terry Semel.
All of Peters Entertainment will be headed to the Warners lot shortly, and the company’s operations will continue to be run by prexy Adam Fields.
“It is with great personal pleasure that we welcome Jon back to the Warner family; we look forward to again working closely with him,” WB chairman/CEO Bob Daly and Semel said in a joint statement.
A Sony spokesman declined to comment on the move. But sources there said the Peters dividend may yet be coming. Peters Entertainment has as many as 30 projects in development at Sony, including the potentially high-profile “Money Train,” which will reunite Woody Harrelson and Wesley Snipes; “Gangland,” a biopic of jailed Mafia boss John Gotti; and “Fire Down Below” to topline Steven Seagal.
Peters Entertainment was formed in May 1991 as part of Peters’ deal when he stepped down as Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman. While the company has yet to produce a film, it has spent as much as $ 20 million on development deals.
When Peters stepped down from Sony to set up the production company, it was widely rumored that both he and Sony were uncomfortable with their employer/employee relationship.
The former hairdresser returns to the studio of his greatest success.
“Some of my best films were produced at Warner, and my fondest memories have been the work I did there, in particular with Bob and Terry,” Peters said in a statement.
It’s unclear what projects Peters will take on at WB, and indeed, the company was mum about any possible pix that might go his way. But Peters, along with Guber, lined up a huge slate of projects for the studio in their years there, many of which are still in development.
While Warner Bros. described the deal as an “exclusive joint venture agreement,” Peters is still free to produce any of those projects he started at Sony.