×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Could the Next Chief of U.K.’s Film4 be an American?

James Schamus is one of the names being touted as a possible successor to Tessa Ross

CANNES — The favorite game among the Brit pack in Cannes is guessing who will be Tessa Ross’ successor as Film4 chief, and a surprising choice has emerged: former Focus Features boss James Schamus.

Whether he’d be interested is another matter, but another stumbling block is whether being American could count against him. Film4 is part of British broadcaster Channel 4, which is state owned, so there may be a backlash in the U.K. press if a Yank gets the top job at one of the main pillars of the British film industry, alongside BBC Films and the British Film Institute.

But when Variety asked Channel 4 chief David Abraham at the Film4 press lunch in Cannes Friday whether Ross’ successor could be an American, he simply stated that they were looking for the right person, wherever they came from.

Ross has been phenomenally successful, backing Oscar winners like Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” and Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave,” so these are big shoes to fill, but Schamus certainly has that shoesize, although his dance card as a producer is pretty full already, with the latest addition being Vincent Perez’s “Alone in Berlin.”

Head hunters Spencer Stuart are undertaking the worldwide search, and Abraham says the decision is likely to come in September. Abraham says no major staff changes are likely at Film4 as — in so many words — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Popular on Variety

Other names, among many, in the ether include Peter Carlton, who is now head of Warp Films Europe but used to be senior commissioning executive at Film4, and Sue Bruce Smith, who is head of commercial and brand strategy at Film4. Other suggestions are always welcome as this is a game that everyone can play.

Film4 has three films selected at Cannes: Mike Leigh’s “Mr. Turner” and Ken Loach’s “Jimmy’s Hall,” both in competition, and Daniel Wolfe’s “Catch Me Daddy,” which is in Directors’ Fortnight.

In Cannes, Ross presented promos fresh from the cutting room from three hotly anticipated films — Sarah Gavron’s “Suffragette,” Todd Haynes’ “Carol” and Justin Kurzel’s “Macbeth” — alongside footage from other films in the pipeline, like Lone Scherfig’s “Posh,” Kevin Macdonald’s “Black Sea” and Gerard Johnson’s “Hyena.”

Judging from the showreel that was shown in Cannes, these films should ensure that Ross’ reign ends not with a whimper, but a bang.

More Film

  • Endeavor Content Studio Logo

    Endeavor Content, Studio Exile Strike First-Look Deal With Mexican Producer Subtrama (EXCLUSIVE)

    Endeavor Content is upping its local-language game, signing a significant first look deal with Mexico City-based producer Subtrama. Endeavor enters the deal with studio Exile, a long-form English and Spanish content maker. Subtrama is behind series like Cary Fukunaga’s Netflix drama “Maniac” and films like Gael García Bernal’s “Museo.” Mauricio Katz, Manuel Alcalá, and Panorama [...]

  • Taylor Swift Variety Facetime

    How Midterm Elections Inspired Taylor Swift's New Song, 'Only the Young'

    Miss Americana was keeping another song about America in her back pocket, as it turns out. Taylor Swift didn’t just record 18 songs for last fall’s “Lover” album — a 19th, “Only the Young,” was held back and kept under wraps for the right occasion. It finds its moment in “Miss Americana,” the Lana Wilson-directed [...]

  • Bradley Cooper Nightmare Alley

    Netflix Nabs Bradley Cooper's Leonard Bernstein Drama

    Netflix will back Bradley Cooper’s upcoming drama about Leonard Bernstein, the legendary conductor and musical maestro behind “West Side Story” and “Candide,” Variety has confirmed. The film was initially set up at Paramount. It has an A-list lineup of producers, including Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Emma Tillinger Koskoff, and Todd Phillips. Kristie Macosko Krieger from [...]

  • The Simpsons - Disney parodies -

    Disney Mashes Up 'The Simpsons' Parodies of Disney Films, Theme Parks

    Disney has embraced some of the gentle ribbing dished out by “The Simpsons” over the years — hoping to convince more people to sign up for Disney Plus. The media conglomerate released a compilation of what it calls “the best Disney references in ‘The Simpsons,'” which is now part of the Disney empire, with past [...]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda

    Sundance 2020: Will the Market Be Colder After Last Year's Spree?

    When it comes to big acquisition deals for independent movies, Sundance is the room where it happens, to borrow a lyric from “Hamilton.” So it’s a lucky coincidence that Lin-Manuel Miranda will be a guest at this year’s film festival. For the first time, Miranda will hit the slopes in Park City, Utah, to rub [...]

  • Oprah Russell Simmons Documentary

    Oprah Defends Decision to Exit #MeToo Doc: 'This Is Not a Victory for Russell' Simmons

    Oprah Winfrey explained her decision to step away from “On the Record,” an expose about sexual harassment in the music industry, including women who have accused mogul Russell Simmons of misconduct. The documentary, from filmmakers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, will premiere at Sundance on Jan. 25. Winfrey, who served as an executive producer and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content