EXCLUSIVE: Tony Vinciquerra, who Deadline first reported was considered a leading candidate for the job, is in serious discussions with Sony to replace outgoing CEO Michael Lynton. Vinciquerra would come to Sony with a wealth of experience in television (broadcast and cable), media, technology and in the telecom industry from his time both in the industry and from a stint at TPG Capital. He would, as Lynton did, report to Sony Corp president and CEO Kazuo Hirai.
The job offer follows weeks of multiple meetings between the Japanese and the executive, we were told. The discussions with Sony are moving forward nicely and, as we have seen in the past with previous executive hirings by Sony, the process has been slow and methodic. We hear the hiring announcement could come this week or early next week. Sony declined comment.
Vinciquerra’s job description would be different from the one Lynton previously encompassed as the new post will oversee film and TV but not the music division. Lynton’s job was also as EVP, Officer in Charge of Music Businesses of Sony Corp.
Vinciquerra is considered a top-notch manager and, basically, a grown-up. He is the former chairman of Fox Networks Group and was an executive at both Hearst and CBS.
All eyes right now are now on what will happen to the studio’s film chairman Tom Rothman, who has continued to ruffle feathers on the lot and has led to some consternation with both filmmakers and executives. We’ve been told that Vinciquerra would be given the courtesy by his bosses to be to assemble his own team. He does not have feature experience so that might play into any decision.
One of the things that is still unresolved is whether Sony will be able to get the next James Bond film, which has become the subject of a fierce tug-of-war between studios. Regardless of whether Daniel Craig stars in it, the Bond franchise adds a major domestic and international tentpole to any slate.
How important is it to Sony? So much that Sony Corp’s Hirai just recently made a video “James Bond” presentation in an effort to lure the film to the studio. He even appeared dressed as James Bond.
Ideally, they would keep it at the studio. The James Bond distribution deal with Sony expired after Spectre, which was released in 2015 to a whopping $880 million worldwide and since then it’s been a guessing game as to where the next film in the franchise will land. It’s no secret that both Warner Bros and Sony want this film and, in fact, have had serious conversations with MGM and 007 Danjaq producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. Other studios, however, are also in the mix — Fox and Universal are known to have been circling. Any deal is said to be months away.
MGM has had a very good relationship with Warner Bros through the successful release of the Hobbit movies, which were also box office gold. But in both cases, executive changes have come in the marketing and distribution ranks at both studios so there is a different environment at both.
Sony wrangled away Casino Royale years ago in a deal orchestrated by former Sony Pictures Entertainment CEO John Calley, who revived Bond while head of United Artists. They cast Daniel Craig as the sixth actor to play Bond on the big screen and audiences embraced him as it grossed $599M worldwide — in 2006. After that, in an effort to keep hold of the franchise, Sony made another deal with MGM, cutting a co-fi deal on several pictures (like 21 Jump Street) that ended up making MGM a lot of money.
Word came about 1o days ago that Sony was conducting background checks on Vinciquerra, but at that time, they were looking at others, too, and no job offer had materialized to anyone. Japanese management have been painstakingly methodic in selecting a candidate; they hired an exec search firm but also relied on Lynton’s guidance in finding a suitable replacement.
The hiring of Vinciquerra marks the second major changing over of the guard at a Hollywood studio this year after Jim Gianopulos took the top spot at Paramount Pictures just last month.