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Roger Birnbaum is stepping down from his roles as co-chairman and co-CEO of MGM, he announced Wednesday. He will become an exclusive producer for the studio, while Gary Barber will become the sole chairman and CEO.
Barber and Birnbaum were appointed co-chairman and CEO’s of MGM in December 2010 as the company emerged from bankruptcy. Birnbaum will remain in his current offices at MGM as he develops and produces projects for the company. He will first serve as executive producer, overseeing production, of the José Padilha reboot of the 1987 Robocop, which started principal photography Sept. 15. Other upcoming projects he plans to produce include films based on Deathwish, War Games and Magnificent Seven.
“Gary and I decided, two years ago, to accept the challenge of joining MGM and restoring the company to its rightful place in the industry. I am very proud of where MGM is today,” Birnbaum said. “I have been in the film business a long time, and my greatest passion has always been producing. Now is the time for me to return to what I love to do the most, producing films. And the fact that I will be producing for MGM, with Gary, my partner and friend will be very gratifying.”
“I respect Roger’s decision to return to his passion of ‘hands on’ producing, and we are thrilled he has chosen to stay at MGM on an exclusive basis,” Barber said. “We have been partners for almost 15 years and we have shared many successes together and I look forward to many more. I have the utmost confidence in Roger’s ability to produce many of our key upcoming productions, and I could not be happier that we will continue to work together.”
Since taking over at MGM, Birnbaum and Barber have secured a distribution and co-financing partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, which includes such films as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 21 Jumpt Street and the upcoming James Bond movie Skyfall. The company has partnered with Warner Brothers/New Line Cinema on the upcoming The Hobbit trilogy. And MGM also partnered with Paramount Pictures on several upcoming films such as Gi Joe: Retaliation and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. MGM and Sony’s Screen Gems also recently wrapped production on Carrie, due in March, 2013.
In April 2011, Barber and Birnbaum renewed MGM’s worldwide home entertainment distribution pact with Fox Home Entertainment, extending the agreement through 2016. The company has also created such new TV series such as Vikings for the History Channel and Teen Wolf for MTV, and it is developing a new version of Fame with Nigel Lythgoe.
Barber and Birnbaum will continue their long-term partnership at Spyglass Entertainment, a company they founded together in 1998. While no longer producing films through Spyglass, they continue to own the library assets of the company together.
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