Universal Pictures chairman stays under contract through 2014
Following Universal Pictures’ summer of solid performances at the box office and tough decisions in the boardroom, NBCUniversal has reupped Adam Fogelson as studio chairman through 2014, a telling vote of confidence in the U regime that Comcast inherited in January.
Also, U co-chair Donna Langley is negotiating with Fogelson to extend her contract, an insider tells Variety. With that deal imminent and the recent contract extention for Ron Meyer — already the longest-serving studio head in Hollywood — it’s clear that the Comcast/NBCU brass are pleased with the status quo at its film division.
Fogelson will continue to report to Universal Studios prexy and chief operating officer Meyer, with a new twist: He’ll also also report to NBCU chief exec Steve Burke, a move designed to bring him in line with other key figures across the corporate structure under new ownership.
Fogelson moved up from marketing chief in 2009, when then-chairmen David Linde and Marc Shmuger were shown the door amid a deep downturn. He was under contract through 2012, but NBCU opted to extend his contract early, following several box office winners including “Hop,” “Bridesmaids” and “Fast Five.”
Those films more than made up for misses “The Dilemma,” “The Change-Up” and “Cowboys and Aliens,” leading the studio far outgross last year’s totals with an entire quarter still left to go. Sources tell Variety that Fogelson’s disciplined steerage and talent relationships were particularly important to NBCU brass, and that he considers Langley an essential component to the U strategy of making sellable films with high upside and minimized risk.
The duo have also been unafraid to make tough decisions, no matter the project or players involved.
They let go of production prexy Debbie Liebling in May after 18 months on the job to streamline the executive ranks and process. And U recently jettisoned several big-ticket projects over budget concerns, including Guillermo del Toro’s “At the Mountains of Madness,” an ambitious adaptation of Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series, Hasbro tie-in “Ouija” and potential fantasy franchise “Wicked Lovely.”
But the studio’s philosophy still allows it to take big swings, including next summer’s “Battleship,” “Oblivion” (starring Tom Cruise), “Snow White and the Huntsman,” “47 Ronin” and “The Bourne Legacy.”