Dylan Leiner has extended his contract as executive vice president at Sony Pictures Classics for another three years. The pact keeps Leiner at the company he has called home since 1994. He started as an assistant to co-president and SPC co-founder Marcie Bloom, rising up the ranks and forming key relationships with filmmakers such as Terry Zwigoff, Todd Solondz and Wim Wenders.
It’s a period of time that’s seen enormous changes across the indie space, with many major studios such as Paramount and Warner Bros. shuttering their specialty labels. Yet Sony Pictures Classics has endured, Leiner said, because it has remained filmmaker-focused and committed to being economical. At the most recent Oscars, Sony Pictures Classics scored 18 nominations, the most in company history, for the likes of “Whiplash,” “Foxcatcher,” and “Mr. Turner.”
In Cannes this year, SPC acquired “Son of Saul,” “Truth” and “Our Little Sister.”
“We always stuck to our knitting,” said Leiner. “We didn’t move into genre films or get carried away with big-budget productions.”
Leiner said his decades at the studio have helped him create a shorthand with co-presidents Tom Bernard and Michael Barker that serves them well when they are at festivals such as Cannes. He vividly remembers his first trip to the Croisette in 1997. “Michael and Tom set me down and said, ‘at some point you will break down in tears,’” said Leiner. “They told me it would pass and we’d get through it together.”