Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.’s Chief Strategic Officer Ken Schapiro is exiting the studio at the end of this month after joining the company in 2011 as COO. He was a key figure at MGM in recent years, helping to guide the studio’s strategy, and was promoted in January to his current post. Analysts saw his promotion as a sign that MGM possibly was going public (which it indicated in 2012 was a distinct possibility). It’s not clear where that stands now. However MGM Chair Gary Barber did tell analysts recently in a conference call that he would continue to evaluate that and promises to do what’s best for the company. Schapiro has been involved in all of the company’s financials. He helped to structure debt and its $75M stock repurchase, helped coordinate MGM’s investments in new media and the 2012 divestiture of the company’s overseas channels, and oversaw MGM’s home video campaign for its 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise. Before joining the studio, Schapiro co-founded investment management company Qualia Capital and was COO of Artisan Entertainment — helping to turn around the video distributor and merge it with Lionsgate. Schapiro said he was thankful to be part of the restructuring at MGM and was looking forward to another challenge.
Barber said in a statement: “I am fully supportive of Ken’s decision. He has done an outstanding job at MGM, and I will miss his counsel and daily friendship. Having known Ken for 25 years and worked with him for 12 years, I know he will be successful in whatever endeavor he chooses and we wish him nothing but the best.”
MGM has been hit-and-miss recently as the studio works to develop projects and exploit its current library of titles. One of those, the remake of the horror film Carrie, didn’t fare too weel with only $35.2M at the box office. Its most recent film, the reboot of RoboCop, in partnership with Sony, was budgeted at more than $100M and grossed a total of $242.5M worldwide. It recently announced that it was pairing with Paramount and filmmakers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett on the remake of the William Wyler classic Ben-Hur. It recently paired with New Line and Warner Bros to produce the Reese Witherspoon-Sofia Vergara buddy comedy known under its previous working title as Don’t Mess With Texas. The comedy originally was set up at Universal but ended up at MGM, where Witherspoon has had a long relationship. The two studios previously partnered on The Hobbit franchise, which is nearing the $2B milestone. The final installment of their trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, will bow December 17. The two also are partnered on the upcoming romancer If I Stay, which hits theaters August 22. The studio is also paired with Sony on 22 Jump Street.