George Clooney Leaves Warner Brothers and Signs With Sony
After residing at Warner Brothers for nearly nine years and feeling like "part of a family" there for "almost 20," George Clooney is moving over to Sony Pictures with his producing partner (and co-screenwriter on Good Night, and Good Luck) Grant Heslov. The duo's company, Smokehouse Pictures is has signed a two-year deal with Sony Pictures (as first announced by Deadline Hollywood), the very same studio that last week shocked the industry by abruptly dumping the baseball movie Moneyball, which was to be directed by Clooney's former Section 8 partner, Steven Soderbergh, and was going to star Clooney's buddy Brad Pitt.
Analysts are questioning Sony's reasoning for making such a deal with Clooney and Heslov since the studio isn't interested in Oscar fare and Clooney hasn't been that successful at the box office whether in front of or behind the camera -- that is, unless it's an Oceans movie. Last year, his screwball throwback Leatherheads, which he directed, starred in and produced through Smokehouse (which was distributed by Universal, not Warner Bros), grossed less worldwide than the film cost to make. Critics didn't much like the movie either, so it's odd that Sony Co-Chairman Amy Pascal would consider this partnership. "We see real value in opening our doors to producers with their critical and commercial track record and their artistic point of view."
The press release announcing Smokehouse's move listed the projects the production company has been developing over at Warner Bros, though it's not clear whether any of these films will make it to Sony.
Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. An adaptation of Jonathan Mahler's nonfiction book chronicling the historic Supreme Court case in which two lawyers sued the Bush administration on behalf of accused terrorist Salim Hamdan.
Our Brand is Crisis
A satirical comedy about American spin doctors competing in the same Presidential election in Bolivia. Based on the documentary by Rachel Boynton, with a script by Peter Straughan (Men Who Stare at Goats).
An adaptation of Beau Willimon's critically acclaimed play, set during the Iowa primary of a presidential race.
Escape From Tehran
The true story of how the CIA used a fake movie project to smuggle hostages out of 1979 Tehran. Chris Terrio is writing the screenplay.
A contemporary spy thriller about a spy who risks everything to reveal a conspiracy after he's accused of a murder he didn't commit. Based on the bestselling book by Olen Steinhauer. Tony Peckham is writing the screenplay.
The Innocent Man
Based on the bestselling nonfiction book by John Grisham, the true story of murder and injustice in a small town in Oklahoma. Adapted by David Gordon Green.
One Sony exec told Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood that we need just look at Sony's track record with Will Smith and Adam Sandler to understand the deal. Apparently the studio heads will be working very closely with Clooney and Heslov "to develop the kind of material we all believe makes sense for Sony and its multilabel distribution strategy." Does this mean Clooney will be doing more action movies and broad comedies? We certainly hope not. In addition to the projects mentioned above, Clooney has acting roles in Jason Reitman's Up in the Air, Grant Heslov's Men Who Stare at Goats, and Fantastic Mr. Fox coming up.