At a time when many producers are finding Hollywood a cold place, it’s hard to imagine Brian Grazer and Ron Howard any hotter. The Imagine Entertainment partners will barely catch their breaths from awards season when they kick off the summer with the May 15 release of “Angels and Demons,” the sequel to “The Da Vinci Code,” which Howard directed and Grazer produced with John Calley.
The formation of Imagine came after Grazer and Howard bonded on “Night Shift” and “Splash,” the films that transitioned Howard from acting and established Grazer as a film producer.
“Both films were successful, ‘Splash’ more so, but ‘Night Shift’ really cemented Brian and my friendship, and also the idea that we were good together and could really get things done,” Howard says. “It wasn’t until a couple of years later that we formally formed Imagine in the mid-’80s, but certainly a partnership was forged during those back-to-back movies, which were pretty hard to get made.”
More than 20 years later, the company remains on a prolific pace. The next production start is “Nottingham,” with Ridley Scott directing Russell Crowe. Also on the fast track are a Mitch Hurwitz-directed movie transfer of the Imagine-produced TV series “Arrested Development,” the Brett Ratner-directed “Trump Heist” and the Spike Lee-directed “L.A. Riots” and “Inside Man 2.”
Though Howard is Connecticut-based and Grazer is ensconced in Imagine’s Hollywood headquarters, the duo have developed a connection that informs everything the company does.
“We’ve lived with each other’s thought patterns so long that I’m aware of his presence whether he’s in front of me or in Rome,” Grazer says. “We have a constant level of respect for each other as partners, and we don’t take one another for granted. Every decision I make operates in that artistic or moral conscience.”