EXCLUSIVE: Fox International Productions, the local-language production and acquisitions arm of 20th Century Fox, is being phased out from its perch as a separate entity, Deadline has learned. As a result, FIP President Tomas Jegeus is being brought into the main studio where he will continue to develop international projects and report to Vice Chairman/President of Production Emma Watts and President of International Theatrical Distribution Andrew Cripps.
The moves were set forth by studio Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider in an internal memo sent to staffers (see below).
FIP was launched in 2008 and became a high-profile local-language production and acquisitions division under former head Sanford Panitch who left for Sony in 2015. Studio veteran Jegeus took over at FIP in September 2015, stepping into the role after co-running worldwide marketing and distribution alongside Paul Hanneman. The latter exited the studio in August 2016. Cripps later joined Big Fox from IMAX in January 2017.
The local-language sector can be a lucrative, if tricky, part of studio business. (Warner Bros is oft-cited as a leader in the domain, along with Fox and Universal.) The FIP shifts were unveiled to staff late last month, and I hear are unrelated to a potential sale of Fox or its assets.
FIP has been active in the past few years, optioning IP and acquiring remake rights, but projects have been slow to get off the ground. I hear that going forward, those projects will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis and anything already in the pipeline is still moving ahead. In October this year, FIP set Ale Damiani to direct Latino comedy Upgraded. Last year, it acquired James Luckard’s WW II serial killer thriller Silent Night from Nigel Sinclair and Guy East’s White Horse Pictures, and with Peter Dealbert also producing.
Local acquisitions are expected to continue, only now in a streamlined fashion. Part of the difficulty in producing local pics stems from the increased competition for talent, particularly with the reach of television and streaming tentacles around the world.
The move to phase out FIP as a separate entity is described by Snider as “the best way” to take advantage of opportunities going forward, involving local and regional offices more directly. As a result, Fox will be “faster, more opportunistic and more cohesive by giving our territory and regional offices a direct working relationship with International Distribution to evaluate opportunistic acquisitions; and with our production executives to help develop projects in house.”
FIP was formed to tap into the growing audiences outside the U.S., complementing Fox’s worldwide releases with films sourced through partnerships with international producers, filmmakers, financiers and strategic production and distribution agreements. When it was originally created, per Snider’s memo, a dedicated corporate unit was needed to seize upon the opportunities and ensure the production business outside the U.S. was given its due.
But the landscape has changed, “and the global nature of our filmmakers, audiences and creative executives — not to mention the strength of our international offices” has enabled the studio to think “on a worldwide and local/territory basis for every project that comes in our door both in LA and via those offices outside the U.S.,” Snider wrote.
FIP’s credits include 2016 Korean hit The Wailing which made about $49M locally; Chinese remake Bride Wars; and 2013’s German comedy The Break-Up Man. In India, where FIP has partnered with Fox Star Studios on such titles as Salman Khan-starring 2015 blockbuster Prem Ratan Dhan Payo and Bollywood Knight And Day remake Bang Bang, I understand that FIP will no longer be involved, but Fox Star will continue to operate.
Here’s Snider’s memo in full:
We are constantly evaluating the structure of our studio and its production units to ensure that our organization is best matched to the needs of both our consumers and filmmakers. Our international productions business, FIP, was formed a number of years ago to capitalize on the growing film audiences outside the US, as well as emerging local filmmakers in those territories. At the time, a dedicated corporate unit was needed to seize upon these opportunities and ensure our production business outside the US was given its due. Since that time, the landscape has changed and the global nature of our filmmakers, audiences and creative executives – not to mention the strength of our international offices – has enabled us to think on both a worldwide and local/territory basis for every project that comes in our door both in LA and via those offices outside the US.
As a result, we felt the best way to take advantage of these opportunities going forward was to phase out FIP as a separate entity and to involve our local and regional offices more directly, and empower them to leverage their local expertise on both production and acquisition opportunities. These moves, coupled with scaling back the corporate infrastructure that comprised FIP, will allow us to be faster, more opportunistic and more cohesive by giving our territory and regional offices a direct working relationship with International Distribution to evaluate opportunistic acquisitions; and with our production executives to help develop projects in house.
As part of this change, and to better integrate our international focus into the studio’s existing production and distribution team, we have decided to bring Tomas into the infrastructure of the main studio as opposed to having him run FIP as a separate entity. In his new role, he’ll focus on developing select international-oriented projects for the company, continuing to report to Emma and Andrew. Tomas has been instrumental in getting the international production business up and running and he’s a perfect fit to drive these types of projects for us going forward. Please join me in congratulating him on this new role.