Amblin Shake-Up: Michael Wright Stepping Down as CEO
Steven Spielberg, who is chairman of his company, will assume the CEO role.
Michael Wright, Amblin Partners' top executive, is stepping down as CEO, the company announced Tuesday.
Steven Spielberg, who serves as chairman, will assume the CEO post.
Wright, who became DreamWorks CEO in September 2014, was later instrumental in establishing the overarching Amblin Partners, home of DreamWorks, and in forging Amblin’s distribution deal with Universal Pictures. His contract wasn't up until 2020 after being renewed in early 2016, according to sources.
A major mandate was to build and exploit the trio of labels that fall under Amblin Partners: Amblin, for family films; DreamWorks, for adult fare, such as this fall's Pentagon Papers drama The Post, directed by Spielberg; and Participant Media, for socially conscious movies. (Jeff Skoll's Participant is a major stakeholder in Amblin.)
Wright will become an executive producer on two of Amblin's upcoming films.
“I have always enjoyed working with Michael and the unique creative collaboration we’ve shared going back to his days at Turner Broadcasting," Spielberg said in a statement. "I am very pleased to continue our relationship and that he is joining our upcoming projects, The Talisman and The Wand, as an executive producer. I also want to express my gratitude to Michael for helping us launch our company and creating a strong foundation to build on in the future.”
An insider said there was a feeling that Wright wasn't the right fit, even though he was a huge Spielberg fan. He essentially became Spielberg's No. 2 after the departure of former DreamWorks co-chairman Stacey Snider, who is now chairman of 20th Century Fox Film.
During his tenure, Wright oversaw a slate that included The Girl on the Train and A Dog's Purpose and the recently announced The House With the Clock in Its Walls.
Jeff Small remains president and co-CEO, and, with Spielberg, will oversee the company's operations. Holly Bario, president of production, will continue to be responsible for the company's film development and production.
Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey continue in their posts as co-presidents of Amblin Television.
Before joining DreamWorks in 2014, Wright was president and head of programming for TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies. At Turner, he spearheaded brand-building for the three networks and led TNT and TBS to the top of the cable charts for 10 years in a row. During that time, Wright programmed some of the biggest hits on cable television, including The Closer, Southland and Falling Skies on TNT and Conan on TBS.