BREAKING 10:49 AM with updated details, noon: After working in the business for 20 years both as a producer and creative executive, Wyck Godfrey has been tapped to replace Marc Evans as Motion Picture Group President at Paramount Pictures. He will begin his job in January. Evans, as Deadline reported last night, is seguing into a producing deal. Godfrey comes to the job after a prolific run as producer and partner with Marty Bowen in Temple Hill. His producing credits include The Maze Runner and Twilight Saga franchises, the latter of which was dropped by Paramount. The move comes only six months after Jim Gianopulos stepped in as Chairman/CEO of Paramount Pictures. Godfrey will report to him and oversee creative/development, casting, phsyical production, post production and music, according to the studio.
Godfrey was among the names rumored over the past few weeks, when it became evident that incoming chairman Jim Gianopulos would make a change to try to energize the fortunes of the motion picture group. Gianopulos has been making some significant moves in his first six months at the studio, which is in dire need of being revitalized. Deadline sister pub Variety was first to report Godfrey coming into the post. Godfrey is a known entity to Gianopulos who enjoyed the success of the Godfrey-produced (viai Temple Hill Ent.) the YA box office hits The Maze Runner and The Fault in Our Stars while Gianopulos was running Fox.
“I have enormous respect for Marc as a professional,” said Gianopulos about Evans. “He has shown himself to be a first-class creative executive and a truly great human being. He has initiated some great projects currently in production, and while we will miss him as a colleague, we look forward to his continuing contributions.”
Bowen, who will continue to run Temple Hill, said he will miss his business partner of 12 years, but said of that time together “we have rarely disagreed, we have never fought and we have always laughed. I am proud of what my dearest of friends and I have accomplished together and of the team we have assembled. All of us who know Wyck realize he’s going to be an excellent studio president. I not only wish him well, but will also be cheering loudest with all of his future successes.”
Temple Hill is in post-production on Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and recently completed Life Itself and is finishing the supernatural thriller Down a Dark Hall.
This is not the first exec action taken by Gianopulos. The new Chairman/CEO has been making changes in his executive roster over the past few months and, a huge coup, he just brought in Fast and the Furious producer Neal Moritz into a first look deal, prying him away from Sony after more than 20 years there. He has also brought in former DreamWorks animated exec Mireille Soria to oversee the division as well as Awesomeness TV founder Brian Robbins to run a new unit called Paramount Players as they work to integrate Viacom brands into the Paramount family.
The move to now bring in Godfrey and oust Evans comes just one day after Gianopulos acknowledged to investors that the studio’s 2016 run “was a disaster.” And that it was. The last several films from Paramount — Rings, Monster Trucks, Ghost in the Shell, Transformers: The Last Knight and Baywatch – have performed dismally at the box office.
The move for a new creative head also comes as the studio grapples with a missed payment from Chinese partner HuaHua that was expected to help finance Paramount’s slate. The Chairman/CEO told investors yesterday that Paramount could “replace (the HuaHua investment) in a timely and immediate fashion” if the company fails to make good on their promise.
Gianopulos also predicted that this year’s slate will be much better and that he sees better performances as films slide into the slate through 2019 and on paper it does look more promising, starting likely with the sequel to Daddy’s Home (Nov. 10) another Cloverfield movie (Feb. 2), Annihilation (Feb. 23), Mission: Impossible 6 (July 27) and the Transformers spinoff Bumblebee at Christmas. And of course, 2019 is promising a new Top Gun reuniting Tom Cruise and producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Godfrey began his career in entertainment in 1990 as a creative executive at New Line Cinema where he worked under Michael DeLuca (who was also courted by Viacom) and on such films as The Mask, Dumb and Dumber and the House Party and Nightmare on Elm Street series. In 1995, he joined Horizon Pictures as Senior VP of Production, overseeing their slate of projects for 20th Century Fox.
He then worked at John Davis Entertainment as executive VP, developing Behind Enemy Lines before being promoted to president of the company and then developing and producing Daddy Day Care, Flight of the Phoenix and I, Robot. He also produced (or executive produced) eight features between 2002 and 2006, including When a Stranger Calls, AVP: Alien vs. Predator and Eragon.
Then in 2006, he and Bowen partnered for production company Temple Hill putting together their first project: Catherine Hardwicke’s The Nativity Story, a modestly budgeted movie that would lead to the company’s big break two years later, when Hardwicke would direct the first feature in the Twilight Saga. Twilight claimed a $393.6M global box office and churned out four sequels — New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn – Part 1, Breaking Dawn – Part 2.
It was the Twilight series that established Bowen and Godfrey with the YA crowd and soon they were working with YA author John Green to turn his books into movies, including Paper Towns and the wildly successful The Fault In Our Stars which grossed $307.1M globally on a budget of only $12M.
Godfrey and Bowen have also had success in television. They were executive producers on the recent Fox TV crime drama Rosewood, and the long-running ABC drama Revenge. Currently the company is in production on David E. Kelly’s television adaptation of Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes.