EXCLUSIVE: I’m told the decisions were made after Thanksgiving and HR asked staff not to reveal the news. Daniel Battsek will depart as President of National Geographic Films at the end of January and is working out his exit package. (Battsek was exited as Miramax president in 2010 just before its sale and joined NGF a year ago.) Battsek reported to David Beal who also will leave as President of National Geographic Entertainment at the end of December. The Beverly Hills office of National Geographic Films shuttered as of December 20th after HR had been laying off staffers for several months. Remaining activities will be housed out of the National Geographic Global Media group’s headquarters. But the exact future of National Geographic Films and Entertainment is unclear.
For instance, the future of NGF’s $100+ million film fund with ImageNation Abu Dhabi remains up in the air: I understand it was secured at a time when film financing was hard to come by and specified that it had to be spent within the specified 5-year time period on 10 to 15 features. Battsek was responsible for the development, production, acquisitions, and distribution of all of NGE’s film projects but staffers complained he wasn’t aggressive enough. Sources tell me that NGF had “a number of viable studio co-financing deals” available but they were not pursued by Battsek. Such a shame, especially because Nat Geo has won awards for its films, including the 2nd highest grossing documentary of all time March Of The Penguins which Battsek’s predecessor Adam Leipzig bought for $1 million. Plus, it’s such an iconic brand.