Magazine article Variety

CBS Films Aims to Rule in Smaller Pool

Magazine article Variety

CBS Films Aims to Rule in Smaller Pool

Article excerpt

FEATURED PLAYERS

New co-toppers eye fresh talent, targeted releases

New CBS Films co-prexies Terry Press and Wolfgang Hammer don't like to define themselves by their budgets, P&A caps or even the type of films they release, but they're happy to shed light on how to make specialty films make economic sense.

For instance, Press says, Robert De Niro is in talks to star in "Last Vegas," with Michael Douglas already in advanced negotiations for the comedy. Press says that if De Niro signs on to the pic, its profile changes, and so does the cost.

The question is, at what price does the pic become too expensive? "Is there a point (when we say), 'That's very nice, but we can't do it'? Yes there is," Press says.

Like "Last Vegas," CBS Films is at a crossroads. Since founding president Amy Baer ankled at the end of her four-year contract in October, the CBS Corp. shingle has experienced its biggest hit (the $54 million-grossing "The Woman in Black"), rolled out $5 million Toronto fest pickup "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" to a gross of $8 million and counting, and landed the first big buy of Sundance (the Bradley Cooper-toplined "The Words"), all while remaining, more or less, in executive limbo.

In an anticipated move made just in time for Cannes, CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves on April 23 named Hammer, the division's chief operating officer, and marketing consultant Press - who've worked for the shingle since 2010 - as cotoppers. They hope to overcome a rocky few years of underperforming, big-name films and a nearly year-long gap in releases, which ended with February's boffo bow of "Black" (helped along by $14 million in marketing, a precisely targeted spend Press hopes to make a hallmark of CBS Films).

With Press, a former DreamWorks exec, overseeing creative, distribution, marketing and physical production, and Hammer handling business, finance, legal affairs and acquisitions (including financed, co-financed and completed projects), their first official move was to promote Maria Faillace from senior VP to exec VP of production. As third in command, Faillace will oversee the shingle's inhouse releases, in a six-pic annual slate that's evenly balanced by acquisitions.

"She has really good taste, a team of good people and understands what Wolfgang and I are trying to accomplish," Press says. …

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