Brad Pitt and Brad Grey Break Up: Plan B to Exit Paramount (Exclusive)
UPDATE: The company behind "12 Years a Slave" and "World War Z" is headed to New Regency when its deal expires at the end of the year, but a sequel to Pitt's zombie action hit remains in development at Paramount
The long business relationship between Brad Pitt's production company and Paramount CEO Brad Grey is about to end, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Pitt's Plan B production company, which is riding high on recent hits 12 Years a Slave and World War Z, will exit its home of eight years when its deal with Paramount expires at the end of 2013. Plan B, which Pitt runs with Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, is headed toward a three-year deal with Arnon Milchan's New Regency, producer of 12 Years. RatPac Entertainment, the upstart financier-production company founded by Australian billionaire James Packer and filmmaker Brett Ratner, will serve as a finance partner on Plan B films.
“Our company is built on working with the best talent in the business. By bringing Plan B, with their solid filmmaker relationships and stellar pool of talent, into the fold with RatPac, we are doing just that,” Brad Weston, president and CEO of New Regency, said in a statement.
“There are very few partners in this business who are able to balance artistic integrity with commercial viability. Working hand in hand with New Regency and RatPac, we feel we have found the perfect fit,” a rep for Plan B said in a statement.
Grey, formerly a manager-producer before taking the studio chief job at Paramount, co-founded Plan B with Pitt and then-wife Jennifer Aniston in 2002. The company has had a deal at Paramount since 2005.
During its Paramount relationship, Pitt's company had made a number of of independent-style films (The Time Traveler's Wife, The Tree of Life) with other partners, but its biggest hit by far (and the only one starring Pitt himself) was the zombie epic World War Z, which grossed $540 million worldwide this summer. THR reported earlier Tuesday that a sequel is in the works with director Juan Antonio Bayona, who helmed 2012's tsunami drama The Impossible.
There were tensions between Paramount and Plan B during the troubled production of the Marc Forster-directed World War Z and more recently over 12 Years a Slave. In October, THR reported that a dispute had arisen because Paramount executives believed Plan B had breached the company's deal with the studio by failing to offer it an opportunity to finance and distribute 12 Years. In April 2012, a few weeks before director Steve McQueen began filming the slavery drama, New Regency agreed to co-finance and distribute the picture via Fox Searchlight. The film has earned early awards buzz and is performing well at the box office, having grossed more than $35 million to date.
Still, the relationship between Pitt and Grey is said to remain amicable, and the studio will continue to partner on projects that were developed during Plan B's tenure at Paramount.
Plan B is familiar with New Regency. In addition to 12 Years, the two companies partnered on Mr. and Mrs. Smith and have just wrapped shooting on True Story, based on the book "True Story: Murder, Memoir, Mea Culpa" by Michael Finke. That film stars James Franco, Jonah Hill and Felicity Jones and will be released by 20th Century Fox.
RatPac is making a big push into Hollywood. Earlier this year, the company closed a deal to provide up to $400 million in financing to Warner Bros.
“Plan B has become a consistent supplier of top-tier material and talent. As a new company, for us to be able to partner with Arnon and his team at New Regency on this deal, it gives us a great jump-start for what we are trying to accomplish,” Packer and Ratner said in a statement.
Paramount recently added producer Jerry Bruckheimer to its roster, perhaps filling the Plan B void.