Amid the massive changes and financial challenges facing Hollywood, the six major studios managed largely to maintain the status quo on their on-lot film production pacts. Ironically, Sony Pictures, despite being under pressure to slash its annual spending by $250 million, and having cut hundreds of jobs, actually amped up its roster over the past year.
Sony’s increase to 30 first-look deals from 22 represents by far the biggest hike in several years for any major, and drove the overall number of studio-funded arrangements to 142, an increase of four over the same time last year. The new deals at Sony include an ultra-lucrative agreement for ousted studio chief Amy Pascal; a three-year pact for “Captain America” directors Joe and Anthony Russo; deals for Channing Tatum and Josh Donen, former execs Elizabeth Cantillon, DeVon Franklin and Michelle Raimo Kouyate and for up-and-comers, Josh Bratman’s Immersive and Joby Harold’s Safehouse.
Among all studios, Warner Bros. remained in its usual leadership spot, with 37 pacts, including four through New Line. Its total three-deal gain came from the additions of “American Sniper” producers Andrew Lazar and Robert Lorenz; “Lego Movie” animation supervisor Chris McKay, who’s directing “Lego Batman”; and James Wan, director of horror megahit “The Conjuring,” and its sequel.
Among the notable deals that were not renewed: Roger Birnbaum at MGM; Peter Guber, David Linde and Vince Vaughn at Universal; Mark Gordon at Disney; Steven Rales’ Indian Paintbrush at Paramount; and Alexander Payne at Fox Searchlight. Notable new additions include Elizabeth Banks at Universal, Gail Berman and Matt Reeves at Fox, Benh Zeitlin at Fox Searchlight and Brigham Taylor at Disney.