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This story first appeared in a special awards season issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Plan B Entertainment might win its second best picture Oscar in three years with The Big Short (after 2013’s 12 Years a Slave), but there was a time when things were not looking so golden for the production company. The name has its roots in a shingle started by Bruce Berman at Warner Bros. after he stepped down as the studio’s worldwide production head in 1996. Eighteen months later, Berman left to head Village Roadshow, and the company went dormant. In 2001, he passed the name on to Brad Grey for a production company Grey was creating at Warners with Brad Pitt and Pitt’s then-wife, Jennifer Aniston.
Getting the name was simple enough, but by 2006, things had gotten complicated: As Plan B’s first official release, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, hit home video and its second, The Departed, landed in theaters, Pitt and Aniston divorced (she no longer has an ownership position in the company). Grey, meanwhile, became head of Paramount and any properties he co-owned with Warners had to be renegotiated.
Just who owned Plan B’s projects was “not as crystal clear as it should have been in the contract,” Grey told THR in 2013. Against the odds, however, Plan B prospered. Charlie grossed a half-billion worldwide, and 2013’s World War Z made $540 million.
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