HOLLYWOOD — With more than a third of Columbia Pictures’ feature slate now provided by Joe Roth’s Revolution Studios, heads have rolled in a revolution moving through Sony’s production staff.
Late last week, Col chairman Amy Pascal notified senior VP of production Lori Furie that her contract would not be renewed when it expires this summer, while exec VP of production Michael Costigan is ankling the studio of his own accord.
Presaging the exits of Furie and Costigan were the pinkslipping of three Col story editors last week. Staffers are bracing for more changes within the executive ranks.
Furie’s exit comes with the end of her contract, while Costigan has more than a year remaining on his. Both have yet to decide their next moves.
“I’m working with Lori to find ways that will allow her to continue working with us and be closer to the filmmaking process,” Pascal said in a statement.
While the studio has suffered a string of box office misses, the two execs were responsible for two of Sony’s biggest recent hits, “Charlie’s Angels” and “Stuart Little.” Nonetheless, the Sony reporting structure has become top-heavy — a cost that seems particularly onerous with the threat of strikes by writers and actors. In addition to Pascal and president of production Peter Schlessel, the ranks still contain three exec VPs — Doug Belgrad, Amy Baer and Matt Tolmach — and senior veeps Andrea Giannetti and Carrie Richman.
It is also worth noting that while Costigan was often viewed as Pascal’s go-to guy, he had also become the touchstone for some of the studio’s more sophisticated adult titles — a product line that has become less attractive as Col tries to move toward a mix of pics that, as Schlessel told Variety last year, focuses on “good movies that you don’t have to make perfectly.”
Among the films that Costigan supervised were “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” “The End of the Affair,” “All the Pretty Horses” and the upcoming “Riding in Cars With Boys” and “The Tailor of Panama.”
Costigan, who reached his decision to depart the Sony lot after nine years as an executive, joined Columbia in 1992 as an exec story editor. He supervised such hits as “Cruel Intentions” and disappointments including “Hanging Up” and Amy Heckerling’s all-too-prophetic “Loser.”
“It couldn’t have been more fun, but at a certain point, the only way to stay original is to raise the bar and find a new challenge,” says Costigan. “I am leaving colleagues that are like family to me. They’ve been great about letting me do what I wanted to do.”
Pascal called Costigan “one of my closest friends,” adding, “I will miss him more than I care to think, but I know that this is the best thing for him.”
Costigan is in the process of wrapping up production on Col’s “The Sweetest Thing,” starring Cameron Diaz, and developing “Fifty First Kisses,” a comedy from scribe George Wing with Jay Roach attached to helm, and the comicbook-based sci-fier “Astroboy.”
Furie joined Col in 1993 as a creative exec. At the studio, she worked on the production of “Cruel Intentions” and “Stuart Little” alongside Costigan. She is supervising the soon-to-go-before-cameras sequel to “Stuart Little” as well as the low-budget Sarah Jessica Parker starrer “Life Without Dick.”
(Dana Harris contributed to this report.)