Behind Elizabeth Gabler's New Deal With Sony, HarperCollins

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Elizabeth Gabler

The former Fox 2000 exec will be bringing her entire development team to the as-yet unnamed company.

For the next phase in her career, former Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler had to choose between her onetime bosses at the Century City studio: Tom Rothman (now running Sony Pictures) and Jim Gianopulos (Paramount). The book-savvy exec opted for a multiplatform production deal with the former.

Insiders say the decision came down to the wire, given Gabler's close relationship with both men. A deciding factor was the involvement of HarperCollins, which agreed to co-fund Sony's partnership. Paramount couldn't match the flush offering on its own and couldn't partner with HarperCollins, either, given that its parent Viacom is expected to merge in the near future with CBS, which owns rival publisher Simon & Schuster.

HarperCollins, which sinks $300 million a year into new literary works, has published some of Gabler's biggest adaptations, including The Devil Wears Prada, Life of Pi and Hidden Figures. "No one in Hollywood has done a better job of bringing books to film than Elizabeth and her team," said president and CEO Brian Murray in a statement.

Gabler, who found herself with no role at Disney following its $71 billion acquisition of Fox assets, is expected to bring a number of Fox 2000 projects with her and also hopes to take the Reese Witherspoon-produced Where the Crawdads Sing, based on the best-selling book from another HarperCollins rival, Penguin Random House.

Gabler also will bring her entire development team to the as-yet unnamed company (insiders say she wants to keep "2000" in the new name, but is expected to receive pushback from Disney, which owns the Fox 2000 label). She will serve as a consultant on her final Fox 2000 release, Amy Adams' recently pushed The Woman in the Window.

Sources say Gabler's pact allows her to work on Sony's Culver City lot two days a week and at her Santa Barbara ranch three days — mimicking her Fox setup, long the envy of Hollywood execs. And while the HarperCollins deal gives Sony key access at a time when film studios are vying with streamers for literary rights, Gabler won't be restricted to only adapting from the publisher's works, according to another source. 

Pamela McClintock contributed reporting.