Claudia Lewis is stepping down as president of production at Fox Searchlight as of May 23, it was announced Tuesday by presidents Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula. Lewis, who has been an executive at Fox’s specialty film division since it launched in 1995, has headed its production activities since 2006.
Matthew Greenfield and David Greenbaum, Searchlight’s executive vps of production, will serve as acting department heads, assuming responsibilities for Searchlight’s slate as well as all aspects of production, the announcement said.
Lewis has overseen more than 50 films, including last year’s Oscar-winning Birdman as well as such titles as Wild, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Descendants, Black Swan, 127 Hours, (500) Days of Summer and Juno.
Most recently, she has been involved in upcoming films that include Marc Webb’s Gifted, Craig Johnson’s Wilson and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, and has been on pre-production on Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris‘ Battle of the Sexes and Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
In announcing the move, Lewis said in a statement, “I’m honored to have made films with artists like Alexander Payne, Danny Boyle, Darren Aronofsky, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, Jason Reitman, Jim Sheridan, Marc Webb, Jean-Marc Vallée and countless other filmmakers from a global community of international independent filmmakers.” She went on to say, “I’m now excited to make a change, and to challenge myself and my creative instincts with a new chapter in my career. I’m also thrilled to have hired and mentored a wonderful team at Searchlight who will maintain our commitment to distinctive auteur filmmaking.”
Sources suggest Lewis could have taken a buyout as part of cost-cutting measures recently imposed by parent company 21st Century Fox. Her exit also follows disappointing results for Far From the Madding Crowd and the sequel to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
“We are grateful for Claudia’s pioneering role as one of Searchlight’s first executives and her tireless efforts making Fox Searchlight a powerhouse in independent film. Her leadership over the last two decades has resulted in a track record of success,” Gilula and Utley said in a statement of their own, adding, “Claudia’s keen insight and creativity will surely be missed. We wish her all the success in the world in the next phase of her career.”
Prior to joining Fox Searchlight, Lewis was a producer with Addis Wechsler and was vp production at Avenue Pictures, where she oversaw The Player and Drugstore Cowboy.