Danny Perkins, who has headed up the U.K. arm of European powerhouse StudioCanal for eight years, is to leave to the company.
The news – likely to be a major talking point in the British film industry – was confirmed Wednesday, with Perkins, who joined when Vivendi-owned StudioCanal acquired Optimum Releasing in 2006, set to leave as CEO at the end of September to set up his own production company.
In a memo to staff, StudioCanal chairman Maxime Saada announced the departure, thanking Perkins’ “remarkable contribution, originally as co-founder of Optimum Releasing and since 2010 as CEO of StudioCanal UK. A 20-year adventure that saw a small independent distribution company grow and merge into StudioCanal to become a reference player in the UK market.”
Saada also underlined StudioCanal’s commitment to the U.K.
“This moment of emotion marks a milestone in the life of StudioCanal UK,” he wrote. “But our ambitions in the U.K. do not change. On the contrary. Great Britain is an essential territory for StudioCanal due to the economic weight of its market (theatrical, home entertainment, SVOD, etc.) and the very strong links we have developed locally with many world-class talents. It’s also in the U.K. that we’ve recorded some of our biggest critically-acclaimed successes both on TV, for example with Happy Valley, and on the big screen with Paddington 1 & 2.”
In his time at StudioCanal, Perkins has helped spearhead its U.K. arm into becoming one of the most important financiers and producers in the country, overseeing its $500-million global box office amassing Paddington franchise with Heyday Films and forging similarly close ties with companies including animation giants Aardman, from which it has produced and released Shaun the Sheep Movie and Early Man, plus Working Title (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Legend), See-Saw Films (Macbeth) Blueprint Pictures (The Mercy). Meanwhile, under his tenure it has amassed awards for titles such as The Imitation Game and Carol, and helped support rising directors including Yann Demange (’71), Ben Wheatley (Sightseers, Free Fire), Chris Morris (Four Lions) and Joe Cornish (Attack the Block).
“The business feels well set and I’m keen to build something new,” Perkins tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The things that I think that I’m at my best with and the things that have worked well are British event films that can travel, things along the lines of The Imitation Game, Rush or Paddington or what we’ve done with Aardman. I think there’s a wealth of amazing IP in the U.K., there’s great stories, there’s great material and loads of great talent on both sides of the camera. I’ve been involved in a number of those projects and I’m going to look to bring more to the market.”
Perkins also confirmed that there were several projects he had been developing at StudioCanal he would be bringing across to his new venture, but couldn’t yet reveal what these would be.
Upcoming executive producer credits for Perkins include The Secret Garden adaptation, with Heyday Films and set to star Colin Firth and Julie Walters, Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, currently in production at Aardman, and the Tom Hardy-starring adventure epic Shackleton, a project he admits will be a “tough one” to leave.
“There’s a script coming before I leave, and it’s one I can’t wait to read. But it’ll be bittersweet.”
Perkins’ departure comes just as StudioCanal has moved away from its Soho base and into brand new London premises in King’s Cross that it shares with other Vivendi entities including Universal Music Group and Gameloft.
In his memo, Saada said StudioCanal would “soon announce the appointment of a new CEO.”