Four years after making a name for himself as the production guy responsible for “Wedding Crashers,” New Line president of production Richard Brener is still on a roll, making modestly budgeted comedies that are doing big things at the box office, even as New Line has been downsized and folded into Warner Bros.
In the past year, he’s overseen the ensemble hit “He’s Just Not That Into You,” which, despite an all-star lineup that included Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Connolly, cost just $40 million and yet made $93 million at the domestic box office. Then there was “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” (which has made $54 million) and “Four Christmases” ($120 million), directed by first-time feature helmer Seth Gordon. He’s also overseeing the “Sex and the City” sequel, which begins shooting in August.
Brener’s strategy is to gamble on newbies such as Gordon and “Sex and the City” helmer Michael Patrick King, who’d previously only worked in TV.
“We try to pick up guys on their way up,” Brener says. “Traditionally, we find the guy who’s getting $1 million, and we give him $5 million before he gets $10 million. We’re still betting on someone, we’re still giving them a raise, but we’re still getting them at a reasonable rate, because comedy doesn’t need to be expensive to work. It just needs to be funny.”