Manifest’s destiny sends Henson home

Sony scales back first-look deal

Just days after seeing her Manifest Films’ first-look deal substantially scaled back at Sony Pictures, Lisa Henson is joining Jim Henson Pictures as a consultant, shaking up its management structure.

After three years at Sony and no pictures made there, Henson and partner Janet Yang’s Manifest was to see its first-look deal expire on Sept. 2. Now it will have a substantially scaled-back commitment at Sony, good for one year, according to Amy Pascal, prexy of production at SPE.

That’s fine with Henson, who’s going to spend more time as a consultant to Jim Henson Prods.’ motion picture division. The company was founded by her late father and is run by her brother, Brian.

“I wouldn’t want to start a three year deal there now. I don’t have a good answer for why that is– the reasons are my private reasons,” Lisa Henson said, adding “A one year extension for me seems just great.”

Manifest Films most promising recent project, “The Way to Water” was recently put into turnaround at the Sony-based Phoenix Pictures. While it will be distribbed abroad by Canal Plus, pic is now currently without U.S. distribution.

Current Henson Pics topper Stephanie Allaine, reached out of her office late Thursday, confirmed that she will be leaving the company, but said that she will stay on to produce several live action pictures.

“The details are still being worked out,” said Allaine, who added that her No. 2, Kristine Belson and Henson would likely co manage the division.

Henson would not comment on what effect her expanded motion picture responsibilities would have on the Jim Henson Pictures corporate structure. Of her consulting deal Henson would only say that “I do anticipate getting more involved with the film part of the company.”

CEO Brian Henson was out of the country and could not be reached for comment at press time.

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