What impact will the defection of Russell Schwartz have on USA Films?
The affable prexy of USA decided to jump to New Line Cinema last week because, he tells Variety, he wanted to work on bigger films, like the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Still, Schwartz has left USA for bigger pastures but a lesser title: he’s replacing Joe Nimziki as NL’s prexy of domestic theatrical marketing. Schwartz headed Gramercy Pictures before it was merged with October Films to form USA Films in 1999.
For now, USA’s Gotham-based chairman Scott Greenstein is a solo act. “We are assessing how to restructure the company and whether to bring someone in to replace Russell,” a USA spokesperson said.
USA’s releases include the multiple Oscar-winning “Traffic,” which grossed $126 million, and last year’s “Nurse Betty” and “Being John Malkovich” — bright spots on a slate that included the recent “One Night at McCool’s,” an $18 million pic that just crested $6 million domestically.
In addition to Mira Nair’s “Monsoon Wedding,” which USA picked up at Cannes, the year ahead includes “Possession,” helmed by Neil LaBute and starring Gwyneth Paltrow with Aaron Eckhart, the Coen brothers’ “The Man Who Wasn’t There” and the Robert Altman ensemble pic, “Gosford Park.”