It’s classic that just as a film executive can claim a huge hit, he’s out at the studio. Joe Drake’s stewardship at the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group is a thing of the past, but he does have bragging rights over “The Hunger Games’ franchise. Now he and longtime Mandate partner Nathan Kahane (“Juno,” “Stranger than Fiction”) are launching a new shingle, Good Universe, just in time for Cannes.
They’re calling it “a full-service motion picture financing, production and global sales company,” which already has “the infrastructure and resources to develop, package, produce and fully finance its movies.” The exit deal included films from Mandate’s development slate, which is partnered with Lionsgate.
Drake and Kahane will be seeking to acquire other material in three specific areas: “bigger multi-quadrant properties with true franchise potential, expanding the Ghost House Pictures brand with a reinvestment and increased focus on the horror genre, and a focus on the kinds of movies that defined the Mandate brand—singular, original voices with universal stories to tell such as Juno, the Harold & Kumar series and 50/50.”
In Cannes, Drake will also be jump-starting the Good Universe global sales operation and present their first two films, Spike Lee’s remake of Korean thriller “Oldboy,” set to start in September with Josh Brolin, Lizzie Olsen and Sharlto Copley, and Jon Turteltaub’s comedy “Last Vegas,” starring Michael Douglas.
Good Universe and Lionsgate will partner to complete a number of Mandate pictures currently in production, including the re-teaming of “The Devil Wears Prada” duo—director David Frankel and actress Meryl Streep—in Sony release “Hope Springs,” also starring Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell (August). Other projects include co-writer/directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s original comedy “The End of the World,” and Ghost House Pictures’ remake of “Evil Dead.”
Drake and Kahane’s ten-year partnership began in 2003 with the start-up Mandate Pictures as well as partnering with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert on horror label Ghost House Pictures (“The Grudge”). Drake and Kahane remain partners in Ghost House Pictures. In 2007, the team sold Mandate to Lionsgate and continued to operate it as an autonomous brand. Drake oversaw the company’s theatrical production, distribution, marketing, acquisition and international theatrical operations until the merger with Summit forced him out.