David Spitz Stays With Lionsgate

David Spitz has signed a long-term agreement to remain president of Domestic Theatrical Distribution at Lionsgate. Spitz has worked on world famous films including “The Hunger Games” franchise and “La La Land.” In addition to these successes, he helped establish new brands for the company, including Pantelion and Lionsgate Codeblack Films.

Spitz began his career as a film buyer for Mann Theaters, then as a regional branch manager for MGM Distribution. In 1996, he joined LIVE Entertainment as the Western Division Manager. When LIVE Entertainment became Artisan, Spitz remained on staff and held several executive positions. When Lionsgate acquired Artisan in 2003, Spitz came along and continued moving up the ranks until attaining his current position in 2009.

 

Photo from Variety

Lionsgate has praised Spitz for his many talents, such as seeing opportunities that other studios overlook, like holes to fill in the release calendar. He also works in a variety of genres, as seen in his credits, where he has done everything from action-adventure films to musicals.

He’s also proven instrumental in expanding the company by helping build the Pantelion Hispanic film brand and Codeblack Films. Pantelion, the first Latino Hollywood studio, produced Instructions Not Included, which is now the highest-grossing Spanish-language film ever released in the United States. Codeblack Films is an urban film label focusing on serving the world’s black community with a diverse portfolio of feature films.

“David’s distribution leadership is a key element in guiding our business forward,” said Joe Drake, Chairman of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. “He has great relationships with exhibitors, talent and our studio partners and a deep understanding of the right release dates and best distribution strategies for our movies. He will continue to be an integral part of our motion picture leadership team in the years ahead.”

Spitz is thrilled with the deal and said he is glad “to be part of the most innovative and visionary studio in the business and to be surrounded by an incredibly talented group of distribution executives.”

Upcoming Lionsgate releases include “Hunter Killer,” “Robin Hood,” “Midway,” and “Parabellum,” the next chapter of the John Wick franchise.

Middleton Media Group’s New Project: Breaking Cover

Middleton Media has optioned the rights to the book “Breaking Cover: My Secret Life in the CIA and What it Taught me About What’s Worth Fighting For.” This memoir, written by former CIA agent Michele Assad after she was cleared to drop her cover, details her time serving in the Middle East alongside her husband, Joseph.

While the screenplay is still being adapted by Michael Russell Gunn (The Newsroom), early reports state that the film plans to focus on the Assad’s relationship while they were working undercover, as well as the humanitarian mission they planned and executed after they left the agency.

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Photo from Goodreads

Growing up in rural Florida, Michele never planned to fight terrorism, but after meeting Joseph in high school, traveling to Egypt and studying the Middle East in college, she became interested in the region. On a whim, she submitted an application to the CIA and was accepted, as was Joseph.

The Assads were in training under the CIA’s Directorate of Operations when the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred. As a result, the two worked on missions throughout the Middle East, hunting down terrorists while also maintaining their marriage. In addition to their missions, the film will chronicle a humanitarian effort they planned and carried out to rescue hundreds of refugees from ISIS in 2015, which was featured on ABC’s 20/20 under the title “Escaping ISIS.”

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Photo from ABC

Michele’s book has offered readers a different perspective on the Middle East and the film intends to bring that view to the big screen.

Breaking Cover reveals a layer of the world that we don’t ordinarily get to see, and Michele has harnessed her vast political knowledge, understanding of the region, and natural gifts as a storyteller to craft a memoir that feels like a thriller,” John Powers Middleton and Alex Foster told Deadline Hollywood.

Middleton and Foster are serving as producers on the project for Middleton Media.

“We’re excited to be partnering with the talented Michael Russell Gunn on the script and can’t wait to bring this incredible true story to audiences everywhere,” they said.

Adam Ciralsky (The Somali Project) and P3 Media will serve as executive producers alongside Luke Franek (The Maze Runner).

Extinction now Streaming on Netflix

Extinction, an original science fiction story created by Spenser Cohen, follows Peter, an engineer who fears losing his family to an alien invasion. The film is fast-paced and contains a plot twist that has intrigued audiences, causing it to be lauded as one of Netflix’s “best original movies.”

*This post does not contain spoilers.

Photo from Google

Extinction, one of 2013’s Black List scripts, transports audiences to the near future where Peter has nightmares of an alien invasion. His wife, Alice, is frustrated by his constant absence from family events and encourages him to seek help for his dreams. One night during a celebration at their apartment complex, an alien invasion begins. The family attempts to return to Peter’s office, a safe place, by running through the city’s tunnels. To find out how the movie ends, you’ll have to head over to Netflix and watch for yourself.

The cast features Michael Peña (“American Hustle”) as Peter, and Lizzy Caplan (“Now You See Me 2”) as Alice. Up and coming actresses Amelia Crouch and Erica Tremblay play their daughters, Hannah and Lucy, respectively.

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Photo from Google

Australian director Ben Young became attached to the project after his movie Hounds of Love screened at the 2016 Venice film festival and it was one of many scripts sent to him.

“It was one that caught my eye, specifically because it was a science fiction film,” Young told Meaww. “It had all of the action and the thrills and spills that you’d expect from the genre but also, at its core, was about something which I think is really important and relevant to the world we’re living in at the moment.”

John Powers Middleton served as an executive producer on the project.

A Record Breaking Week in Washington

This week the nation’s capital hosted the top players from around the country for the 2018 All-Star game. The week kicked off with the 2018 Home Run Derby featuring eight hitters, including Phillies left-fielder Rhys Hoskins and hometown favorite Bryce Harper.

“I grew up watching the Home Run Derby as a kid, so I think that full circle kind of moment is pretty cool,” Hoskins said before the competition.

Hoskins sailed through the first round but came up short in the semifinals against Cubs’ outfielder Kyle Schwarber who went on to face Bryce Harper in the finals. Harper sent 19 homers flying in the final round to triumph over Schwarber and walk away with the trophy. While Harper hit more homers when it counted, Schwarber hit 55 homers during the derby, more than any other player this year and the second most in derby history, with the record being 61 set by Giancarlo Stanton in 2016.

Photo from Newsday.

Storms threatened the Midsummer Classic Tuesday night, but the skilled groundskeepers at the National Stadium had the field ready by game time. After the national anthem played, players met and thanked 29 Medal of Honor recipients before the game began.

Pitcher Aaron Nola did Philadelphia proud by pitching a scoreless inning against top American League hitters. As one of the youngest Phillies pitchers in 50 years to make an All-Star debut, Nola’s 96 mph fastballs proved a formidable test for some of the AL’s best players, including Mookie Betts. Betts has only struck out 42 times this year out of 355 plate appearances, but Nola took him down with ease.

“This whole experience was fun for me,” Nola said. “Definitely memorable.”

Photo from Nola Media.

The AL led 5-3 in the ninth inning when Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett hit a home run to tie the game, forcing extra innings. Teammates Alex Bregman and George Springer, from Houston’s Astros, hit back-to-back homers in the top of the 10th inning securing the sixth victory in six years for the American League.

The National League will get the chance to even the scales on July 9, 2019 at Progressive Field in Cleveland.The Midsummer Classic returns to Cleveland after more than two decades and will be the first one played under the stadium’s new name.

 

Lionsgate Restructuring Continues

Just over 5 weeks ago, Lionsgate named Good Universe co-founder Nathan Kahane as the studios President. Today, the studio continued its restructuring as they named Damon Wolf the head of worldwide marketing. The position was previously held by Tim Palen, who will remain with the studio as chief brand officer. Palen is known for his marketing work on box-office hits such as The Hunger Games & La La Land. He has been “considered to be a giant in the movie business and a creative genius.”

The transition is set to take place January 1, 2019. This move is the result of Joe Drake’s house cleaning that’s been in effect since last winter when he took over as chairman. Wolf has spent the last four years at Sony as the co-head of marketing for TriStar Pictures, Screen Gems and Sony Pictures Acquisitions. Wolf was part of marketing campaigns for many hit films like Baby Driver, All the Money in the World and T2: Trainspotting.

Photo from Deadline, Lionsgate

Drake mentions Wolf was a key hire as he continues to add more creative members to his team. He also brought Good Universe and Disney executive Erin Westerman on in May as the executive VP of production.

Despite continuing the remainder of the year at Sony, in a Variety.com article Wolf shared an internal notice praising and thanking Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony, and also went on to say “The people I have met and had the amazing opportunity to work with at Sony Pictures will forever hold a special place in my heart. This lot is filled with creativity, laughter and spirit that I will always cherish.”

Upcoming Lionsgate films include The Spy Who Dumped Me, Robin Hood, Hellboy and John Wick: Chapter 3.

Lionsgate Taps Nathan Kahane as President of Motion Picture Group

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Nathan Kahane, Erin Westerman; source: Hollywood Reporter

Nathan Kahane was recently named president of the motion picture group at Lionsgate. He will rejoin Joe Drake, who he co-founded motion picture company Good Universe with in 2012.

Drake previously served as co-COO of the studio’s motion picture group until co-founding Good Universe with Kahane. He returned to Lionsgate as motion picture group chairman in October 2017, the same month that Lionsgate acquired Good Universe. Kahane continued to lead the company and oversee key talent partnerships, including Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.

Kahane and Drake’s business partnership began more than a decade ago, when they founded Mandate Pictures together in 2003. Around its launch period, the duo partnered with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert on their Ghost House Pictures production label.

Mandate was sold to Lionsgate in 2007, and Kahane and Drake continued the business as an autonomous brand. Under the direction of Kahane as president, Mandate’s portfolio included hit shows such as the Golden Globe-nominated and Independent Spirit Award-winning comedy 50/50.

During his 20 year career, Kahane has served as executive producer for more than 30 films.

“I have worked alongside Nathan as an executive, entrepreneur and producer for 15 years, during which he has demonstrated a combination of great leadership skills, a game-changing approach to filmmaking, and talent relationships that are second to none,” said Drake.

“I’m thrilled by the opportunity to join a great leadership team at one of the most innovative and exciting studios in the business,” said Kahane.  “I look forward to assembling a commercially exciting, diverse slate of films that establishes Lionsgate as a premier destination for the top creative talent in the world.  I’m also pleased to see Erin Westerman expand her managerial role, as she has already proven her superb creative instincts, talent relationships, and keen eye for top properties on which we will be focused.”

Former Good Universe and Disney exec Erin Westerman was also appointed executive vp production. The recent moves “are part of a realignment of the Company’s motion picture business under its new leadership team.”

John Powers Middleton has produced for Good Universe since 2013.

Good Universe to Produce 2019 Film Grudge

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Source: IMDB

Sony Pictures has added Grudge to its 2019 release slate. Grudge is the studio’s reboot of Ju-On, the 2002 Japanese horror film, and its 2004 American remake The Grudge, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. The Grudge earned $187.3 million worldwide on a $10 million budget.

Nicholas Pesce, who is known for his work in The Eyes of My Mother, will direct the new adaptation of the blockbuster, The Grudge, for Ghost House and Good Universe.

Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions (SPWA) owns worldwide rights to Grudge. SPWA, Ghost House, and Good Universe have previously collaborated on Fede Alvarez’s “Don’t Breathe.”

Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert will produce for Ghost House. Nathan Kahane and Erin Westerman will executive produce for Good Universe alongside John Powers Middleton, Schuyler Weiss, Roy Lee, Doug Davison, and Andrew Pfeffer. Romel Adam will oversee for Ghost House and Brady Fujikawa will oversee for Good Universe.

The film is set to land in theaters on August 16, 2019. Andrea Riseborough, John Cho, and Demian Bichir are set to star in the film. Lin Shaye, best known for her role in the “Insidious” franchise, will also join the cast; she is represented by Buchwald and Rugolo Entertainment. Production will begin in May.