When Amy Pascal was toppled from her perch as Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairperson in 2015, the landing was soft. The longtime executive negotiated a lucrative four-year exit deal that guaranteed her two theatrical releases per year and the right to produce future “Spider-Man” movies. That meant Pascal would earn tens of millions of dollars in back-end compensation from the next seven films in the Spider-Verse, pulling down $10 million for the 2018 “Venom” spinoff alone. The pact, signed off on by then-Sony chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, even provided Pascal with $10 million annually for overhead and discretionary spending. Over the ensuing years, those arrangements have gone the way of the Walkman.
When Netflix film chairman Scott Stuber exits the streamer in March, becoming the latest film chief to pivot to producing, he faces a less hospitable climate. Consider former Warner Bros. Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich, who exited his post in 2022 with a five-year producing deal at the studio but has yet to announce a significant project. Sources say Emmerich tried to board the next “Ocean’s” movie, but that move was nixed by star Margot Robbie, who already is producing the film and brings to the table her LuckyChap Entertainment team including her husband, Tom Ackerley.
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“On all these franchise movies, the big filmmaker or the actor-producer has to decide if they’re OK with adding another voice to the mix. And often they don’t want another producer,” says one high-profile agent.
Some studio heads leave their posts with nothing at all. Former Warner Bros. chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara and NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer, both of whom were caught up in public sex scandals, had to look outside the Hollywood studio system for their next acts. Meyer is currently CEO of Wild Bunch AG, a European independent film distribution and production company. Last year, Tsujihara and former Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes raised $360 million for their Alignment Growth equity fund, whose Hollywood investments include Spyglass Media.
But Stuber enters the fray with one significant advantage: He was a successful producer before becoming an executive. His credits include “Ted” and “Central Intelligence.” Though he has told friends that he has raised money for his new unnamed production company, it is unclear who is providing the funds. (Stuber declined to comment for this story.) Sources say Stuber has amassed enough to cover both development and production and won’t need to latch on to an existing property at Netflix in the Pascal vein. That’s a good thing given that Netflix has nothing comparable to the “Spider-Man” franchise.
“Scott Stuber isn’t exactly going to be put on a ‘Kissing Booth’ movie,” says one fellow producer. “He’s too big for that.”
Friends say Stuber is looking to pursue the types of movies he made as a producer and later championed at Netflix. Among the streamer’s films that demonstrate his taste are the action-comedy “Red Notice,” the Sandra Bullock thriller “Bird Box” and “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” the latter marking the only time the studio gave a wide release to one of its movies. (The Rian Johnson-helmed film earned an impressive $15 million during the one-week experiment in some 600 theaters.)
Agents who have worked closely with Stuber in recent years expect that his track record and ties to talent will help him in his new endeavor.
“When Scott joined Netflix, it gave notice to the entire film community that this was going to be a great place for world-class storytellers to do amazing work, and that’s exactly what happened,” says WME’s Robert Newman, whose clients include Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, both of whom surprised the industry when they got into business with Netflix with “Roma” and “Pinocchio,” respectively. “The best filmmakers on the planet were eager to work with Scott, and I have every confidence that they will continue to do so in the next chapter of his career. I would work with him again in a minute.”
As for who will replace Stuber at Netflix, several names are being bandied about, including those of former Paramount and Fox exec Emma Watts as well as Emmerich. After all, the Hollywood conveyor belt that moves studio heads into producing often extends in the other direction.
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