Book Savvy Elizabeth Gabler To Turn HarperCollins Books Into Movies; Sony In Talks To Distribute

UPDATE: More clarity on Elizabeth Gabler and the HarperCollins and Sony situation. She’ll bring her whole Fox 2000 exec team to this new venture, unnamed, that will move her to the Sony lot. It’s a partnership between Sony and HarperCollins Publishers and the goal is to generate productions across multiple platforms from books in the HarperCollins catalog. Gabler had strong relationships both at Sony and HarperCollins, the latter of which is NewsCorp owned, with a straight pipeline from publisher to the studio. Sony will have first look at the projects, with the studio and book publisher cofinancing the relationship. Gabler’s team members moving to the new venture includes Erin Sinimoff, Marisa Paiva, Nikki Ramey and Molly Saffron. The tricky part here is getting HarperCollins authors to play ball here, since most of their agents sell the rights to projects themselves and might not want to grant an option to Gabler. That proved to be the downfall of Random House Films, which shut its doors after ten years. Authors retain film rights routinely in their contracts.

Sony just issued a release, with quote that indicate that not surprisingly, everyone is thrilled. Release is at bottom of original story.

EARLIER, 10:50 AM PST: Sources said that former Fox 2000 chief Elizabeth Gabler will make her return to the business through an inventive deal that will meld her strong publishing relationships with the strong relationship she has had with Sony and former Fox chief Tom Rothman. She will make a deal with HarperCollins to turn their books into feature films, distributing through Sony. HarperCollins is funding the arrangement, we hear. Rumor for the longest time was she would return to the business either at Sony or Paramount, where she has an equally strong relationship with Paramount chief and former Fox co-head Jim Gianopulos. Amblin was also dangling a deal. Variety was first up with this and we’ll tell you more when we know it.

Deadline broke the story last March that Gabler’s division was coldly shuttered in an abrupt fashion, this after Disney disclosed that the division would continue after it inhaled Fox. Instead, the division she ran since 1999 saw its staff exited, with Fox 2000 closed for business with the last film The Woman in the Window, the Joe Wright-directed thriller that stars Amy Adams and Gary Oldman. Gabler’s highlights include Hidden Figures, The Fault In Our Stars, The Devil Wears Prada, Marley & Me, Love, Simon and The Hate U Give.

Here’s the release:

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) and HarperCollins Publishers today announced an unprecedented partnership with former Fox 2000 President Elizabeth Gabler and her entire Fox 2000 team to source literary material and produce film content across all platforms. The yet-to-be-named venture will be located on the Sony Pictures lot in Culver City, CA and will commence operations later this summer.

The innovative, multi-year partnership will pursue, develop, and make theatrical films and high-level content derived from all sources including, but not limited to, the HarperCollins catalog. SPE will have a first-look at projects, but the deal with SPE contemplates that Gabler and her team may also make content for any streaming or television platforms. SPE and HarperCollins are co-funding the new partnership. Gabler’s team from Fox 2000 includes Erin Siminoff, Marisa Paiva, Nikki Ramey, and Molly Saffron.

“For the past two decades our division has thrived by building a film slate based principally on adaptations of literary properties, both fiction and non-fiction,” said Gabler. “Our close collaborations with authors and their material gives us a tremendous advantage because the development process begins with a terrific story and great characters and even more so after publication, with the added bonus of audience pre-awareness. Additionally, when a film is in production and up through release, we collaborate closely with our authors, their representatives, and most importantly, the publishers, to maximize book sales in conjunction with the film. We have always felt that HarperCollins is part of our family and it is now an honor and a privilege to create a true partnership with Brian Murray and his amazing global team. The only person I know who could have made this a reality with Brian is my mentor, friend, and inspiration, Tom Rothman, and my team and I are deeply grateful for the opportunity to become part of the powerhouse that is Sony Pictures Entertainment.”

“No one in Hollywood has done a better job of bringing books to film than Elizabeth and her team, including many films based on HarperCollins titles,” said Brian Murray, President and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers. “As a company, we invest more than $300M in new works by authors each year. Now, through this partnership with Elizabeth and SPE, we will expand our investment in writers to include film, TV, and streaming opportunities, creating new possibilities for authors to have their books adapted and developed by the best literary team in history with the full support and capabilities of SPE. This partnership is consistent with News Corp’s broader focus to monetize premium content on a global scale across platforms. I am incredibly excited to blaze a new trail with Elizabeth and Tom Rothman at this time of tremendous opportunity and change in the business of storytelling.”

“I have been fortunate to work with Brian, Elizabeth, and her talented team in the past,” said Tom Rothman, Chairman of SPE’s Motion Picture Group. “They are the gold standard at their respective jobs and I am overjoyed that we will all be working together in this very forward-looking partnership. Content creators need to find new and aggressive ways to move up in, and enhance, the value chain for authors, publishers, filmmakers, and studios alike, and we believe this alliance will offer many such new opportunities. Plus, let’s face it, no one makes more hits than Elizabeth. Trust me, I know.”

Gabler served as president of Fox 2000 since 1999, where she and her team achieved extraordinary commercial and critical success with literary adaptations and other commercially successful films based on original material and other mediums. Among their many literary adaptations are Ang Lee’s Oscar-winning film Life of Pi and the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures, based on the HarperCollins non-fiction best seller, as well as other films based on HarperCollins titles including Marley & Me, Love, Simon, and most recently The Hate U Give, based on the critically acclaimed, phenomenally bestselling debut novel by Angie Thomas. In addition, Fox 2000 films include the adaptation of John Green’s blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars, and The Devil Wears Prada, which will be known forever for Meryl Streep’s Oscar-nominated portrayal of the boss from hell. Other much beloved and bestselling HarperCollins properties that were acquired by Fox 2000 are The Art of Racing in the Rain, to be released by Fox/Disney on August 9, 2019; The Woman in the Window, starring Amy Adams and Gary Oldman, currently in post-production for a 2020 release; News of the World, starring Tom Hanks, to be directed by Paul Greengrass; Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, and Angie Thomas’s second bestselling novel On the Come Up.

Gabler’s division and HarperCollins also mined the family entertainment field with titles such as The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Ramona and Beezus by Beverly Cleary, and the books created for the reintroduction of those infamous creatures, Alvin and the Chipmunks. Other family franchises from Fox 2000 were based on Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels, as well as Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.

The future venture will also capitalize on what was Fox 2000’s mission to create enduring adult-based filmmaker-driven films such as Man on Fire, Unfaithful, and The Family Stone. They also earned five Oscar nominations for the Johnny Cash bio-pic, Walk the Line, with the Best Actress Oscar going to Reese Witherspoon.

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