Rice gets Fox promotion

Prod'n veteran named executive veep

Peter Rice, the 20th Century Fox production exec who oversaw such pics as Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo + Juliet” and Danny Boyle’s “A Life Less Ordinary,” has been upped from senior VP to executive vice president at the studio.

With the promotion, Rice joins Elizabeth Gabler, Hutch Parker and Sanford Panitch as the senior-most production executives reporting to 20th worldwide production prexy Tom Rothman, who referred to his execs as the “Fab Four.”

“Peter’s promotion is well deserved,” said Rothman in a statement. “In his five years at Fox he has continued to grow and contribute at ever increasing levels.”

Rice has gained a reputation in the industry for his close-knit talent relations, particularly with such filmmakers as Luhrmann, Boyle and Bryan Singer, who is directing Fox’s “X-Men.”

By targeting talent such as this threesome early in their careers, Rice has managed to secure lasting relationships, and continued business between those filmmakers and the studio.

Strong and focused

“Peter has been absolutely in partnership with me since I screened ‘Strictly Ballroom” in Cannes (1992),” Luhrmann said. “It is very easy in this culture, which is mostly based on fear, to be bright and around when things are working well; but Peter’s particular strength, and this is the most important thing to a filmmaker in terms of their relationship with a studio, is that he knows how to be strong and most focused when things are at their most difficult.”

Rice is overseeing the Thailand-based production of Boyle’s “The Beach,” which stars Leonardo DiCaprio. He also is the exec in charge of Singer’s “X-Men” and Luhrmann’s untitled millennium-era musical.

“I’ve known Peter for six years and finally have the opportunity to work with him on ‘X-Men,’ ” said Singer, who is in pre-production on the Marvel comic adaptation for Fox. “His sense of story and attention to logic and detail are among the best I’ve encountered in the film business. His appointment to executive VP will surely strengthen a great team at Fox, as well as Fox’s relationships with key filmmakers.”

Rice joined Fox eight years ago after graduating from the University of Nottingham. He was named director of acquisitions in October 1994 but later segued to the production ranks and was upped to vice president of production.

Upon renewing his current contract with Fox in late 1997, Rice was promoted from VP to senior vice president. The new promotion comes under Rice’s existing contract, which is understood to last until 2000.