After six years as president of National Geographic Films, Adam Leipzig is moving into an executive producer role on two films he was shepherding at the company, says David Beal, President, National Geographic Entertainment. The first is HBO’s planned ten-hour Lewis & Clark mini-series Undaunted Courage, adapted by Michelle Ashford from the 1996 biography of Meriwether Lewis by Band of Brothers writer Stephen F. Ambrose. The film, set in the early 1800s, is also executive produced by Brad Pitt and Edward Norton. The second is writer-director Peter Weir’s return to the screen, the World War II drama The Way Back, based on the memoir by Slavomir Rawicz, starring Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, Jim Sturgess and Saoirse Ronan, which is in post-production. It has no distributor.
Word is, departing Miramax president Daniel Battsek is in negotiations to take over as president. It makes sense. National Geographic Films is one of the classier, stable gigs left in the business, with access to NG’s huge marketing apparatus, which boasts enormous outreach online and at the National Geographic Channel. Warner Independent release March of the Penguins was one film that took full advantage of that, Leipzig’s biggest hit. But there weren’t enough such hits; Arctic Tale was dumped by Paramount Vantage, while doc God Grew Tired Of Us: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan was a small success d’estime. Always deliberate, the exec was likely not pushing enough projects through to satisfy his masters.