This long-in-the-works move just hit from Fox: DreamWorks Studios co-chairman and CEO Stacey Snider has joined 20th Century Fox as co-chairman of the film studio — and she starts today. Fox Film chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos made the announcement just now confirming the hire, which had been one of the town’s worst-kept secrets.
Snider will report to Gianopulos and be tasked with overseeing all production and development activities for 2oth Century Fox, Fox Animation/Blue Sky Studios, Fox International Productions and Fox Searchlight Pictures, and she and Gianopulos will oversee the studio’s global theatrical marketing and distribution.
Elizabeth Gabler will continue to oversee productions under her Fox 2000 Pictures banner and keep reporting to Gianopulos.
“We are very fortunate to have such a proven and brilliant executive as Stacey joining us in this key role,” said Gianopulos. “Having known her for years both professionally and as a friend, I know she will fit in perfectly with our culture and the talented leaders in key positions throughout the company as we embark on continued success and further expansion of our global businesses.”
Snider was at DreamWorks for eight years as a partner with Steven Spielberg, overseeing creative and financial on all film development and production. But her contract was up in January, and DreamWorks already had hired her replacement: Michael Wright, the outgoing President and Head of Programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies.
Snider first worked with Spielberg while DreamWorks was based at Universal and left her post as Universal Pictures chairwoman to run DreamWorks in 2006, following the company’s move to Paramount. “Stacey Snider has been an important part of my life for two decades and I want to acknowledge her many accomplishments at the company as well as her friendship and counsel which have been so important to me,” Spielberg said. “I’d also like to express my appreciation for her guidance and support throughout the transition.”
At DreamWorks, Snider oversaw such titles as Oscar Best Picture nominees Lincoln, The Help, War Horse and Letters From Iwo Jima as well as Dreamgirls, Tropic Thunder, Transformers, Eagle Eye and Sweeney Todd. That added to a list of big successes at Universal that included The Bourne Legacy, Mummy, American Pie, The Fast And The Furious and Meet The Parents series, as well as Erin Brockovich, A Beautiful Mind, Seabiscuit, Ray, Lost In Translation and Brokeback Mountain.
Said Snider today: “Jim Gianopulos has assembled the finest group of executives and filmmakers in the business; and they’re producing impactful, culturally relevant films. “I’m excited and privileged to join them in their pursuit of excellence.”
In August 2012, there were very public backroom talks between Snider, Spielberg and Comcast for Snider to return to Universal to take a top post. But those talks fizzled.
Snider’s long-gestating move had led to questions surrounding Emma Watts, the production president who has led the studio to its most killer summer in a long time. Gianopulos removed any doubt in August by inking Watts to a new three-year deal. The vote of confidence still leaves room for speculation over how two strong female executives will mesh: There were rumors even in the summer that Snider was letting agencies know what will be Fox priorities going forward.
Still, these are good problems to have at the film studio, where despite taking some maternity leave to have a baby, Watts had her stamp all over a monster slate of films that has included X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Gone Girl, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Maze Runner, The Fault In Our Stars, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Rio 2 and Son Of God. Just last week, Fox set a domestic box office record for its highest-grossing year ever — with November and December still to come. It’s also edging closer to breaking an international box office record as well.
In 2004, Fox scored $1.48 billion; this year its slate has been even more explosive to help the studio cross the $1.5 billion mark as of last week (add in Fox Searchlight, which released the box office favorite The Grand Budapest Hotel in March, and the studio is actually up to $1.62 billion). Still to come: the big-budget Exodus: Gods And Kings, the third installment of the successful franchise Night At The Museum 3: The Secret Of The Tomb, and DreamWorks Animation’s spinoff Penguins Of Madagascar.