Five months after being named head of Sony Pictures, Tom Rothman is making his first substantial restructuring of his leadership team — consolidating his position with the appointment of two new executives at the studio’s flagship Columbia Pictures and naming a new president of the TriStar label, according to a person familiar with the moves.
Rothman is moving his former right-hand from TriStar, David Beaubaire, to Columbia, where he will become an executive vice president of production. Beaubaire will be joined at Columbia by Palak Patel, who is leaving his post as president of production at Roth Films to also become exec VP of production at Columbia. Taking over Rothman’s former job as president of TriStar will be Hannah Minghella, who most recently served as co-head of production at Columbia.
All three of the newly appointed executives will report to Doug Belgrad, who remains president of Sony’s Motion Picture Group. Insiders said the move is meant to streamline operations and to re-energize Sony’s film business as it seeks to recover from a series of disappointing films launched before Rothman took the helm of the studio in February.
Rothman replaced Amy Pascal, who lost her job after a hack tied to the North Korean government unleashed a flood of embarrassing emails written by her and other Sony executives. Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton then named Rothman as chairman of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group.
Rothman, former co-chief of 20th Century Fox, is pushing hard to find winning franchises for a studio that has largely sat on the sidelines while Disney, Warner Bros. and other competitors dominate the box office with tentpole films centered on comicbook characters and other familiar figures. Sony has limped through a lackluster year, with recent underperforming offerings including “Chappie,” “Aloha” and “Pixels.”
By moving Beaubaire from TriStar, Rothman is able to bolster the creative ranks at Columbia following the departure earlier this year of Michael De Luca to Universal Pictures as a producer. Beaubaire, 43, has more than a decade of experience at DreamWorks, Paramount and, most recently, at TriStar.
He previously worked on Paramount releases such as “Up in the Air,” which starred George Clooney as a hard-edged businessman who rediscovers his humanity, and the psychological thriller “Flight,” starring Denzel Washington. At Sony’s prestige label, TriStar, Beaubaire helped nurture films such as “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” the Ang Lee-directed wartime drama scheduled for release on Veterans Day in November 2016.
Patel, 37, has been associated with many acclaimed films, working alongside veteran producer and former Disney film chief Joe Roth, including Angelina Jolie-starrer “Maleficent” and “Million Dollar Arm,” the story of two Indian baseball phenoms who make it to the big leagues. The Indian-American exec was also associated with “Snow White and the Huntsman,” Sam Raimi’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” and the Arnold Schwarzenegger thriller “Sabotage.”
Patel was born in Ahmedabad and found his first cinematic loves in India but discovered American and European films when his family moved to the U.S.
Minghella, the daughter of late director Anthony Minghella, has been at Sony since 2008 and was at one time head of the studio’s animation unit. Most recently she served as co-president of production at Columbia, along with De Luca. She remained in that job when De Luca left in April.
Minghella, 36, previously worked at Miramax on projects like “Finding Neverland,” then helped Steven Shainberg launch Vox 3 films. At Columbia she has been associated with films such as “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace” and on a number of projects for Pascal. She also helped Sony land the rights to “Lean In,” the memoir by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.
There has been some talk in Hollywood that, when Pascal lost her job atop Sony Pictures, Minghella could lose some of her clout, but the new position at TriStar will give her substantial latitude to craft her own slate of films. Minghella has a master’s in English literature from Cambridge University.