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Tom Rothman has landed the chairman post of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, while Michael Lynton has re-upped as chairman and CEO of SPE and as CEO of Sony Entertainment, the studio said Tuesday.
“I am grateful for and humbled by the opportunity to lead the Motion Picture Group,” said Rothman in a statement. “I have had the pleasure of working closely with the exceptionally talented teams at SPE for the past year, and I am excited to build on those relationships in this new role. I want to thank Michael and Amy [Pascal] for their support ever since I came to the lot with TriStar. I am thrilled at this rare opportunity to lead the Motion Picture Group at such an exciting and transformative time for the studio.”
Sony Corp. CEO Kazuo Hirai had been in town last week, purportedly for the Oscars. But he also met with Rothman about stepping into the post long held by Pascal until it was announced Feb. 5 that she would be stepping down.
Rothman, an 18-year veteran of 20th Century Fox who ran that studio with Jim Gianopulos before being ousted in 2012, beat out several suitors for the Sony job, most notably Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad, who is currently the highest-ranking executive under Lynton. Steve Mosko, president of Sony Pictures Television, was also seen as a viable candidate thanks to his thriving division that has produced such hits as Breaking Bad and The Blacklist.
“Tom has had an extraordinary career and we are thrilled to have him run the Motion Picture Group,” said Lynton in a statement. “Tom’s creativity, strong talent relationships and track record of enduring films and commercial success are unparalleled in this industry and exactly what we are looking for to grow our film business. Having run Fox Filmed Entertainment during a time of great successes and growth for that studio, and then producing at TriStar here at SPE, Tom knows this business inside and out like few others do.”
With Sony still reeling from the devastating hack that was first noticed in late November, Rothman — known for his fiscal responsibility — was seen as the best course of action for the beleaguered studio. Lynton is said to have met with Belgrad and Mosko in recent days to let them know that Rothman had been tapped for the post. Rothman now takes the reins of a studio that is in need of a major overhaul — even if just perceptually. The studio, which has been criticized for overspending on talent deals, has only one major successful franchise with Spider-Man — a problem considered the growing importance of franchises in the film industry. And even with that franchise, Sony enlisted Marvel’s help for one stand-alone film to help reinvigorate the property, which stands as the most successful comic book franchise in film but has shown signs of fatigue in recent years. The studio is looking to turn its long-dormant Ghostbusters property into a franchise, with an all-female cast led by Melissa McCarthy.
Lynton, whose own job was seen as possibly in jeopardy thanks to the fallout from the hack — which will likely cost the studio tens of millions of dollars — can breathe a sigh of relief. Under the new structure, he will continue as chairman and CEO of SPE. And as CEO of Sony Entertainment, he will continue to oversee Sony’s global entertainment businesses, which include Sony Music Entertainment, Sony/ATV Music Publishing and SPE. Rothman’s role and title is slightly different than Pascal’s and will be specific to the Motion Picture Group. He will report to Lynton.
Rothman’s negotiations hit a snag in recent days due to the fact that he enjoys an equity stake in the TriStar films he oversees, sources say. But those details were worked out, as both sides were eager to make the deal work.
He returns to the studio where he launched his executive career in 1987 as an executive vp.
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