Michael Wright is stepping down as CEO of Amblin Partners to become an executive producer on two films at the company. Amblin chairman Steven Spielberg will take on the chief exec title. This news just broke.
Jeff Small remains president and co-CEO, and with Spielberg will oversee operations. President of production Holly Bario, and Amblin TV co-presidents Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, all continue in their current roles, the company says.
Wright, the onetime head of programming at TNT, TBS and TCM who left that post to to become CEO of Spielberg’s DreamWorks Pictures, was hired to ahead of the re-establishment of Amblin Partners, the joint venture teaming Spielberg, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment and eOne. He helped set the company’s distribution deal with Universal, as Spielberg watched Stacey Snider go to Fox and DreamWorks’ Disney deal come to a close. Wright was tasked with ramping up, but the films were slow in coming and films like Office Christmas Party, A Dog’s Purpose, The Girl on the Train and Ghost in the Shell didn’t really establish a clear brand. He helped the development of the recently announced The House with the Clock in its Walls, which Eli Roth is directing with Jack Black starring. Wright will be executive producer on Amblin’s The Talisman and The Wand.
“I have always enjoyed working with Michael and the unique creative collaboration we’ve shared going back to his days at Turner Broadcasting,” Spielberg said in a release that Amblin just issued. “I am very pleased to continue our relationship and that he is joining our upcoming projects, “The Talisman” and “The Wand,” as an executive producer. I also want to express my gratitude to Michael for helping us launch our company and creating a strong foundation to build on in the future.”
Amblin Partners reformed in December 2015 as a film, TV and digital content creation company via a $500 million debt syndication to launch the company. All told, the partners culled together over $300 million, with the bulk (roughly $200M) coming from Participant. The deal with Universal called for Amblin Partners to develop and and produce films using all three labels — Amblin, DreamWorks and Participant.
In February, Universal bought a minority stake in Amblin, with Universal Filmed Entertainment chairman Jeff Shell joining its board. Alibaba is also aboard as financier.