Sony Ends Longtime Overall Deal With James L. Brooks (Exclusive)

5:51 PM PST 11/16/2011 by Kim Masters, Matthew Belloni
Armando Gallo/Retna Ltd.

The filmmaker behind "As Good As It Gets" and the 2010 bomb "How Do You Know" has been with the studio for 20 years.

After a 20-year relationship, Sony Pictures has declined to renew its production deal with James L. Brooks, the iconic filmmaker behind such hits as As Good As It Gets, as well as the expensive 2010 flop How Do You Know.

Brooks and his Gracie Films have had a rich overall pact with Sony dating back to 1990. Sources say Brooks' deal expired in September, and Sony and Brooks made no effort to renegotiate. The filmmaker will maintain a development fund at the studio, where he recently set up two projects, and he has one remaining motion picture commitment from the studio. But the Oscar-winning writer-producer-director (Terms of Endearment, Broadcast News) has recently moved off the Sony lot and is now doing business out of an office at Fox, where he remains an executive producer on The Simpsons.

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During his tenure at Sony, Brooks produced such classic films as Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire and Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket, and he directed 1994's I'll Do Anything, the Oscar-nominated As Good As It Gets (1997) and Spanglish (2004).

But Brooks' How Do You Know was a particularly embarassing flop for Sony and the filmmaker. Costing a whopping $120 million, the Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy grossed just $48 million worldwide, one of the studio's biggest bombs in recent years.

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Brooks is merely the latest big name producer to feel the pinch from studios, which are making fewer movies and trying to curtail expensive overall deals with producers.

Email: Kim.Masters@thr.com, Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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