Since its inception, CBS Corporation chief Les Moonves’ experiment in film production and distribution, CBS Films, has been a division in search of an identity. Ex-Sony production exec Amy Baer gave the label a go, biut left at the end of her contract seven months ago. CBS Films moved from ill-fated productions such as “Extraordinary Measures,” starring Harrison Ford ($6 million domestic gross), actioner “Faster” ($8 million) and Jason Statham flick “The Mechanic” ($29 million) to an acquisition model.
Now respected marketing vet Terry Press, who put in stints running marketing at Disney and DreamWorks and had consulted at the fledgling CBS Films since 2010, is teaming with business exec and CBS chief operating office Wolfgang Hammer as co-presidents of CBS Films. Both will report directly to Moonves.
The duo are being rewarded in part for successfully mounting the acquisition and release of “The Woman in Black,” which grossed more than $54 million at the domestic box office, as well as the Lasse Hallstrom romance starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” which grossed $7 million so far. These days such a specialty gross is by no means guaranteed.
Press is well-known for shepherding brilliant marketing and Oscar campaigns–Scott Rudin used her (as well as others) on “The Social Network.” She also consulted on “The Hunger Games,” “Julie & Julia,” “Hugo” and “Valkyrie.”
If anyone can figure out how to cope in this competitive climate, she can. Press, who is a favorite of entertainment journalists because of her often candid take on the industry, was heavily featured in Nicole LaPorte’s recent book on DreamWorks, “The Men Who Would Be King.” She will oversee creative, distribution, marketing and physical production for CBS Films. This is a new direction for her.
Hammer will oversee all business, finance, legal affairs and acquisitions, including financed, co-financed and completed projects for the division. As COO of CBS Films, he surpervised the acquisition of “The Woman in Black,” “Gambit” and “The Words,” as well as the co-financing and release deals for Martin McDonagh’s upcoming “Seven Psychopaths.” Prior to joining CBS Films, Hammer served as EVP of the Motion Picture Group at Lionsgate. Before Lionsgate, Hammer served as production VP at Media Rights Capital.
“In Terry and Wolfgang, we are fortunate to have two very skilled executives, each with terrific knowledge of the business and strong resumes of innovation. They both possess the ‘roll-up-your-sleeves’ attitude for making, acquiring and marketing quality films for a division that is small in size, but laser-focused on assembling a mix of home-grown productions and acquisitions across a diverse range of genres. I look forward to the ongoing contributions they will make as they work together on all aspects of CBS Films to achieve our shared objective of developing great movies and growing this new part of our company.”
In the CBS pipeline: recently wrapped family comedy “Get A Job,” starring Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Miles Teller (“Project X”) and Anna Kendrick “50/50”). as well as summer thriller “7500,” followed by action comedy “Seven Psychopaths,”romantic drama “The Words,” starring Bradley Cooper (“Limitless”) and Zoe Saldana (“Star Trek”). In 2013 the distributor will release their remake of “Gambit,” adapted by the Coen brothers and starring Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz and Alan Rickman.