Movie and TV execs aren’t the only ones who can exit with a producing deal.
Jason Hall, who founded and ran vidgame unit Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment for the past three years, is ankling, and he’s inked a first-look producing deal for movies and games with the studio through his HDFilms banner.
Hall is leaving his post just as the interactive unit is expanding from making its own games to distributing games for other publishers. WB recently signed U.S. distrib deals with Eidos and Codemasters, and it is expected to add more partners in the near future.
When Hall came aboard three years ago, he was aiming to make Warner the first studio to publish its own games; he also sought to improve the quality of its licensed games.
Record of the division has been mixed thus far. Its two self-published games, “Matrix Online” and “Justice League Heroes,” both sold poorly. Some licensed games, such as ones based on “Harry Potter” pics, did very well, while others, such as the recent “Superman Returns: The Videogame,” were critical and commercial disappointments.
Nevertheless, Hall successfully built WBIE into the first vidgame unit within a movie studio and has several more original games in the pipeline, including one based on “300” and a “Dirty Harry” adaptation.
“Any creative business has its hits and misses, but if you look at where we have gotten to date and the deals we now have in the cooker, it would not have been possible without what Jason has done in the past three years,” said WB homevid topper Kevin Tsujihara.
Hall already has one film and game project, “Species X,” in the works at WB that he is producing (Daily Variety, Oct. 5, 2005). He expects to produce other cross-media projects for the studio.
“You’ll see my continued involvement in videogame activity and on content that has appeal and can work across all the areas in which Warner Bros. is working,” Hall said.
Samantha Ryan, prexy of WB-owned developer Monolith, and WBIE senior veep of operations Debra Baker will run WBIE together. Ryan, who is taking the new title of senior VP, development and production, will oversee the studio’s own games, while Baker will handle the business side.
Both now report directly to Tsujihara for the time being, though that may change in the coming months.
They are among the very few senior female execs in the male-dominated vidgame biz.