Aviv said the yet-to-be-named studio is getting ready to produce and distribute up to 10 mainstream motion pictures per year in all genres.
“The studio will strategically focus on films in the $20 to $60 million range,” he added. “We can’t wait to bring our first few films into the market next year.”
Simonds had previously hired former Viacom exec Thomas McGrath as its chief operating officer. He’s backed by TPG Growth; Hony Capital, a private equity firm in China; the business interests of producer Gigi Pritzker through DNS Capital; and the business interests of Beau Wrigley.
The studio’s board includes Frank Biondi, former president and CEO of Viacom; Tony Vinciquerra, former chairman and CEO Fox Networks Group; producer Gigi Pritzker; David Bonderman, founding partner of TPG; Bill McGlashan, managing partner and founder of TPG Growth; and John Zhao, CEO of Hony Capital.
The studio scored its first major TV production commitment with NBC’s recent primetime pick-up of the drama series “State of Affairs,” starring Katherine Heigl. The show will debut in November.
Aviv most recently served as president of domestic theatrical marketing and chief marketing officer for Twentieth Century Fox. Prior to Fox, Aviv served for five years (2006-2010) as president of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Production.
Simonds has been keeping the operations under wraps but told Variety that hiring Aviv will demonstrate that he’s made a serious commitment to indie moviemaking — with 20 projects in the works and 30 employees already on board.
“Hiring Oren is taking us to the next level,” he added. “We are going to fill the vacuum that the studios have created.”
Simonds began producing in the early 1990s and focused mostly on comedies. His credits include “The Pink Panther,” “This Means War,” “Billy Madison,” “The Wedding Singer” and “Cheaper by the Dozen.”
Aviv and Simonds first worked together on Disney’s hit comedy “The Waterboy” in 1998.
Simonds’ venture was first disclosed in March when it was announced that he and Pritzker had partnered with private equity giant TPG and China’s Hony Capital with the aim to generate as many as 10 movies a year.
“I love change and opportunity,” Aviv told Variety. “The marketplace has created this opportunity.”