Producer Mark Gordon has turned the page. With the expiration of his ABC Studios overall deal last month, he’s now knee-deep in building up his new-model studio with the backing of Entertainment One.
EOne bought a 51% stake in the Mark Gordon Co. for $133 million in January. The plan is to expand the company’s scope beyond projects that Gordon himself produces.
With eOne’s backing, Gordon Co. has the resources to work with other producers and creatives to develop and finance film and TV projects, something Gordon has wanted to do for some time. He sees the booming demand for TV content as creating an opportune moment for a well-financed independent. He’s not alone. Bob Simonds’ STX Entertainment has ramped up dramatically in the past year with backing from private equity giant TPG, among other indie startups.
“There’s so much interesting material and content available. Now is a good time to create an independent studio that is led by a producer as opposed to pure financiers,” Gordon said. “Let’s not let the tail wag the dog and have the storytelling be the most important thing.”
Gordon Co. just completed a strong pilot season that included two new series orders, ABC drama “Quantico” and CBS’ “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” spinoff. His active roster includes ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” CBS’ “Criminal Minds” and Showtime’s “Ray Donovan.”
Film is as much as focus as TV for the company, Gordon said. The company aims to build up to slate of four to six movies a year. He’s angling to get at least two to three in the pipeline this year, a plan he kickstarted in March by cutting a deal with director Neil Burger to finance the espionage thriller “All the Old Knives.” They’re also looking at film acquisitions.
“There’s absolutely an opportunity in the marketplace for mid-budget pictures,” Gordon said, whose most recent big screen effort, the Aaron Sorkin-Danny Boyle “Steve Jobs” biopic, is due out in October from Universal Pictures.
Gordon is counting on eOne distribution infrastructure in Canada, Europe and other key territories to give them a leg up in attracting talent and committing to larger-budget properties if the right opportunity comes along. The fact that eOne brought international film and TV distribution assets to the table is the key reason that Gordon partnered with them rather than a strictly financial partner.
“It’s one thing to have money to finance movies and television, but without a distribution pipeline you don’t have an opportunity for success,” Gordon said. “As a strategic partner eOne has a strong global distribution infrastructure as well as financial resources.”
Gordon intends to keep his company a lean operation, with Nicholas Pepper overseeing TV and Michele Wolkoff running film out of their West L.A. offices. Having worked with studios all over town, Gordon is happy to have the freedom to approach dealmaking on his own terms rather than having to wrestle with someone else’s templates and protocols. Gordon Co. chief operating officer Veronica Gentilli has been moving quickly the past few months to acquire books, spec scripts, pitches and other content in order to allow company to get moving in its new era.
“We’ll make the deal we need to make to get our shows on the air,” he said. “We’re not going to spend five months in negotiations on a project.”
As he sets out to become a mini mogul in his own right, Gordon has also made another pledge: He will not take a producer credit on projects where someone else does the heavy lifting. A former president of the Producers Guild of America, Gordon was part of the group that worked for years to battle the spread of producer credits with the establishment of the PGA-certified Producers Mark.