George Clooney has parted ways with Warner Bros., moving the Smokehouse Pictures shingle he runs with Grant Heslov to Sony.
The pair landed the two-year first-look pact at a time when studios are cutting back on production deals, no matter how big the producer may be.
“While we have been trimming production deals overall for the last few years, we see real value in opening our doors to producers with their critical and commercial track record and their artistic point of view,” said Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal.
Clooney and Heslov had been based on the WB lot as producers for the past nine years, initially working together at Section Eight, co-founded by Steven Soderbergh, before launching Smokehouse in 2006. Clooney has been closely associated with the studio since he became a breakout star on the WB-produced “ER” in 1994.
Heslov produced and co-wrote “Good Night, and Good Luck,” which Clooney helmed.
Smokehouse’s executive team includes senior VP of development Nina Wolarsky and creative exec Alex Meenehan.
Smokehouse still has several projects in development at the studio, including “Farragut North,” an adaptation of Beau Willimon’s play about the Iowa presidential primary; legal drama “The Challenge,” penned by Aaron Sorkin; and John Grisham adaptation “The Innocent Man.”
It also has the satirical comedy “Our Brand Is Crisis,” based on the docu by Rachel Boynton; “Escape From Tehran”; and spy thriller “The Tourist,” an adaptation of Olen Steinhauer’s novel.
Over the years, however, Smokehouse has found better luck getting films made and released at other companies.
Its first official project was the Clooney-directed vintage football comedy “Leatherheads,” at Universal. Smokehouse also has “A Very Private Gentleman” at Focus, while this fall, Overture will release “The Men Who Stare at Goats,” which Heslov helmed.
Clooney spoke amicably of the departure: “Warner Bros. has been a great place to work, and I’ve felt like part of a family for almost 20 years,” he said. “So in moving on, I’m leaving a terrific company and a lot of dear friends. They’re a class act.”
Thesp will next be seen in Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” at Paramount and heard in animated feature “Fantastic Mr. Fox” from Fox.