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Regency draws Harper

Fox vice chair exits for chair-CEO spot

Robert Harper has been tapped chair-CEO of Regency Filmed Entertainment, transitioning from his post as Fox Filmed Entertainment vice chair over the next few months.

Harper has a bigger title and mandate than David Matalon, who exited as CEO of the Fox-based Regency less than one month ago. At the same time, Regency founder Arnon Milchan is expected to play a bigger role creatively.

While leaving Fox proper — where he worked for more than two decades — Harper will stay in close touch through Regency’s long-term distribution and equity deal with the studio. Pact allows Regency to either bankroll features on its own or through Fox.

He’ll oversee New Regency Prods., the company’s film unit, as well as Regency Television, a joint venture of Regency and Fox Television Studios.

Regency hasn’t delivered a major box office hit since 2005’s “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”

It’s unlikely that Harper’s post will be filled at Fox Filmed Entertainment, which comprises 20th Century Fox, Fox 2000, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox Atomic and 20th Century Fox Animation. His responsibilities will likely be absorbed by upper management, as well as division heads.

“I have worked closely with Bob over the nine years Regency has been partnered with Fox, and during that time, I have seen what a consummate professional and visionary businessman he is,” Milchan said. “I look forward to Bob taking the helm of Regency as we work to capitalize our partnership with Fox.”

Fox Filmed Entertainment chairmen Tom Rothman and Jim Gianopulos said that Harper, who reported to them directly, has been an “invaluable partner” and “fundamental component of success.”

News Corp. prexy-chief operating officer Peter Chernin also weighed in, saying, “We couldn’t be happier to see this relationship (with Regency) augmented by the transition of Bob Harper to Regency.”

Harper was named vice chair in 2004, with strategic, creative and managerial responsibilities. He focused in particular on cross-divisional collaboration.

He held a variety of positions at Fox before that, including vice chair of 20th Century Fox, exec VP of Fox Filmed Entertainment and prexy of worldwide marketing, in the last post overseeing campaigns for films including “Home Alone,” “Die Hard 2,” “The War of the Roses” and “Edward Scissorhands.”

While he had some hesitation in leaving the studio, Harper said he couldn’t pass up the chance to join Regency and work closely on a smaller slate of films, as well as adding television production and development to his repertoire.

Among the TV shows Regency has produced are “Malcolm in the Middle,” “The Bernie Mac Show” and “Roswell.”

“Regency is a dynamic company with a solid track record of hit movies and TV shows, so I fully expect to hit the ground running and help drive Regency into the future,” Harper said.

Milchan’s company has supplied Fox with as many as five pics per year. Recent titles have included moderate performers “Epic Movie,” “Date Movie” and “Big Momma’s House 2.”

More successful, high-profile titles in Regency’s library include “JFK,” “A Time to Kill,” “L.A. Confidential” and “Fight Club.”

Upcoming slate includes family comedy “Firehouse Dog,” sci-fier “Jumper,” “The Night Watchman” and remakes “Into the Mirror” and “Shutter.”

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