Worldview Ex-CEO Christopher Woodrow Exits New Company After 18 Months (Exclusive)
The 'Birdman' exec launched Vendian Entertainment with Michael Bassick, but sources say the latter's father — an investor — pushed Woodrow out due in part to excessive spending.
It appears Christopher Woodrow's second act has run into problems.
The former Worldview Entertainment CEO, who was ousted from the high-flying company behind Oscar best picture winner Birdman, has exited Vendian Entertainment just 18 months after co-launching the venture.
Woodrow and partner Michael Bassick are going separate ways after their debut slate of films — which included Snowden, Free State of Jones and Black Mass — underperformed. Sources say Bassick's father, John Bassick, who made his fortune after patenting a NASA-used spacesuit, pulled the plug on Woodrow.
In May 2015, Vendian made a splash at the Cannes Film Festival with their new company, touting $100 million in equity and plans for six films a year, including the Tom Cruise-Doug Liman collaboration American Made (CAA advised on the formation Vendian). The new company was supposed to erase negative buzz surrounding Woodrow, whose status as a major player in the independent film finance world took a nosedive in 2014 when he abruptly exited Worldview. Woodrow was escorted out of his New York office at the high-profile company, which has never recovered, and the lawsuits quickly began to fly. According to Worldview court papers, Woodrow allegedly engaged in financial impropriety. An accounting firm's investigation prompted a separate claim against Woodrow alleging embezzlement and improper compensation.
Sources say the elder Bassick, an investor in Vendian, pushed Woodrow out due in part to excessive spending. This year in Cannes, Vendian raised eyebrows when it inked a multiyear first-look deal with Nicolas Winding Refn 's Space Rocket Nation . Winding Refn’s movies have been anything but a sure bet (Neon Demon barely cracked $1 million after Broad Green released it in June).
A former rep for Woodrow confirmed the split but dubbed it "amicable."
It is unclear what happens now to a slew of projects that Vendian is pledged to back, including a Michael Mann-helmed Enzo Ferrari biopic and Sean Penn’s Flag Day. The Andrew Garfield starrer Under the Silver Lake is currently in production.
Both Bassick and Woodrow are actively raising money, with the latter said to be working with EMP's Peter Hoffman.
Still, there’s one bright spot for Woodrow. Hacksaw Ridge, which Vendian has a stake in, continues to build momentum with a best drama Golden Globe nomination. At the box office, the Mel Gibson film has crossed the $100 million mark worldwide.
A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.