Sony Pictures Entertainment today named Lia Vollack to the top post at newly formed Columbia Live Stage, SPE’s new theatrical productions division. The move comes on the heels of Wednesday’s announcement that SPE’s co-production of Groundhog Day, the musical adaptation at London’s Old Vic of the popular Bill Murray-Andie MacDowell comedy, will spin off a Broadway edition in the spring. Vollack previously served jointly as President of Worldwide Music for the Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, as well as EVP Theatrical at SPE. In that capacity, she recently worked with producer Scott Rudin on the musical Shuffle Along.
The move also reinforces a now all-studio trend of Hollywood studios returning to legitimate theater as a way of repurposing their back catalogs and acknowledging that there’s megamoney to be made from the successful adaptation of a known brand. Columbia’s involvement with Broadway goes back to the Golden Age of Broadway musicals such as My Fair Lady, but West Coast interest has heightened in recent years with the billions earned adapting such properties as The Lion King (Disney) and Wicked (Universal). Little surprise, then, that Vollack will be based in Gotham to produce and develop original theatrical productions and work with the library catalogs of Sony Pictures and Sony/ATV Music Publishing to bring new productions to Broadway and other live theatrical venues. She will report to SPE CEO Michael Lynton.
“Lia is among the strongest and most creative executives in this space and the perfect fit to run Columbia Live Stage,” Lynton said in the SPE announcement. “We see tremendous opportunity in live theater and look forward to leveraging Sony’s vast library and original material for future productions.”
Vollack added: “After two rewarding decades in motion pictures, coming back to Broadway feels like a homecoming. I’m humbled to be representing this great studio in the theatrical world, where I began my career. I have always believed in the unique power of live theater and am thrilled to have this opportunity to devote my full time and energy to building Columbia Live Stage.”
Vollack has worked on music for hundreds of motion pictures, including the Oscar-winning theme songs for Spectre and Skyfall, Jimmy Napes and Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall” and Adele’s “Skyfall,” as well as the Academy Award- and Golden Globe-winning score for The Social Network, the multiplatinum soundtracks for the Spider-Man films, an hit singles from artists ranging from Destiny’s Child and Justin Bieber to Pitbull and Pearl Jam. Vollack began her career as a sound designer on Broadway before moving to Los Angeles to work in the film business.