Chairman and co-CEO exits beleaguered studio

The Mary Parent era at MGM is over.

Parent, chairman of the motion picture group and co-CEO, cleared out of her office Friday, according to sources, after two and a half years at the beleaguered studio.

MGM had no comment about Parent’s departure, which came with the studio having released only one movie — “Hot Tub Time Machine” — this year. But her exit wasn’t a surprise, given that MGM’s in the midst of seeking approval from its debtholders for a prepackaged bankruptcy that would leave Spyglass toppers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum in charge dealing with a reorganization, while Lionsgate Entertainment has proposed a merger that would leave the debtholders with a 55% stake.

In a sign of the ongoing unrest at MGM, Parent retained powerful attorney David Boies in late December (Daily Variety, Dec. 30). Sources said Parent has another 18 to 20 months on her contract.

Parent, who had spent over a decade as a Universal exec and producer, came to MGM in early 2008 at the behest of then-chairman Harry Sloan with marching orders to ramp up production. Parent moved quickly, acquiring such projects as Robert Ludlum’s “Matarese Circle” and jumpstarting the slate with reboots of MGM titles such as “RoboCop,” “Red Dawn,” “Pink Panther” and “Fame.”

Parent’s regime also began developing a “Three Stooges” pic with Sean Penn, Jim Carrey and Benicio Del Toro eyed for the parts.

But the few MGM films that made it to the big screen generated only modest returns. The new “Fame” grossed generated less than $25 million domestically when it came out last fall and comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine” rang up a moderate $50 million domestically earlier this year.

MGM’s “Zookeeper,” starring Kevin James, was co-financed by Sony and won’t be out until next summer. The studio has two other movies in the can — a remake of “Red Dawn” and horror movie “Cabin in the Woods” — but neither has a release date.

Early speculation among insiders was that Parent — who remains well regarded within the industry — has already been offered a producing deal at one of the majors. Fox, Sony, Uni and Warners have been mentioned as possible destinations for Parent.

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