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Columbia Pictures Shuffles Key Execs

Matt Tolmach has launched a new production company and will become a producer on the next installment of Spider-Man, the blockbuster film franchise he helped shepherd since its inception in 2002, it was announced today by Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman.

Matt Tolmach

Press Release from Columbia Pictures

(Culver City, Calif. – October 29, 2010) – Matt Tolmach has launched a new production company and will become a producer on the next installment of Spider-Man, the blockbuster film franchise he helped shepherd since its inception in 2002, it was announced today by Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amy Pascal, Co-Chairman.  Doug Belgrad has been promoted to sole president of Columbia Pictures and will take on additional divisional responsibilities. As part of the transition, Belgrad has named Hannah Minghella president of production for Columbia Pictures.

Said Pascal, “I couldn’t be happier for or prouder of Matt, Doug and Hannah. Matt and I have worked together for over 15 years. Anyone who knows him knows he has been talking about this for a long time. He has always approached every project he has ever worked on with the attentiveness of a brilliant producer’s eye and that is what has made him such an excellent executive. As he takes this amazing step with his career, I know we will continue working together for as long as we are both in this business. We tried to convince him to stay in his current job, but we understand the time has come and completely support his decision. Spider-Man has been a big part of his life for the past ten years, and this is the perfect segue. We know he is going to be a killer producer for us.”

Doug Belgrad

“It is also the right moment for Doug to step into a greater leadership position within the company,” she added. “We have worked together since he was a financial analyst for Jon Dolgen, and I have seen him evolve into a consummate studio executive with a rare combination of creative talent and savvy business skill.  As he takes on more responsibility in this new and expanded role running Columbia Pictures, I would entrust the division to no one else. And when he told me he wanted Hannah to return to Columbia as president of production, I was beyond thrilled. Doug sees in her what we all know to be true: she is a singular star. In her three years at Sony Pictures Animation she has proven that she is an extraordinary leader and executive and I know she will be a fantastic addition to what is already the best production team in the business."

From now through November, Tolmach will begin the transition to become a significant producer on the lot as he ramps up his company, which has a three-year commitment with the studio. In December, he will join producers Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad on the set of the new Spider-Man adventure.

“This move has been a dream of mine and something I've been discussing with Michael, Amy and Doug for more than a year now," Tolmach said. "I’ve loved being a studio executive, and Columbia Pictures has always been my home, my family. I’m incredibly blessed to have had Doug as my partner in this job for the past eight years, and I’m very proud of what we've accomplished; I am also deeply grateful to Amy and Michael for their unwavering support and leadership. Consistent with that, everyone has embraced this next chapter for me, and I am planning on making movies here for a long time. Over the years, I have worked with a lot of truly talented producers, and that I now get to join two of them on the set of Spider-Man is almost too good to be true.”

“With this move, the studio is gaining a new producer whose taste we know and whose creative skill we implicitly trust,” said Lynton. “We are very fortunate to have such a deep bench of executive talent at Sony Pictures. That allows us to recognize and encourage the leadership potential of extraordinary colleagues who can make very valuable contributions to our studio. We also have the benefit of making this change from a position of strength, given the amazing track record of Matt and Doug and their team over the past several years. Columbia Pictures is in incredibly strong hands under Doug, and we look forward to working with Matt for a long time to come.”

Belgrad said, “Matt has been an unbelievable partner.  I treasure our friendship and am so proud of the work we did together. I have no doubt he'll be a superb and prolific producer for us.  While this is a completely natural and exciting evolution of our relationship, I'll sorely miss his presence across the hall.  I have been blessed to work with Amy for all but three of my years at the company. She’s been a remarkably generous mentor, and Michael has been incredibly supportive since the day he arrived.  Prior to Hannah's successful run invigorating Sony Pictures Animation along with Bob Osher, I saw first-hand how fantastic she is; how much she loves storytelling, how deeply she understands the creative process, and how powerfully filmmakers respond to her.  With Hannah coming aboard to lead one of the most experienced and capable production teams in the industry, I expect a seamless and smooth transition. She is the perfect choice to take on this new role and responsibility.”

Hannah Minghell

Added Minghella, who has served as president of production for Sony Pictures Animation since 2008, “I am honored and tremendously excited by this opportunity to rejoin the Columbia Pictures production team. There is a reason this group is revered and respected throughout the industry by filmmakers, artists and executives from all corners of our business, and it is a genuine privilege to return and work with my friends and colleagues in this new capacity. At the same time, I am eternally grateful to all the gifted artists, storytellers and staff who have been so dedicated to making Sony Pictures Animation such a phenomenal experience and working environment. SPA will always be a special place to work and collaborate and for good reason: the talent here is second to none.”

“I am truly excited and happy for Hannah,” said Bob Osher, president of Sony Pictures Digital Production. “In the time she has been with Sony Pictures Animation, she has brought her outstanding eye for talent and intense discipline to every aspect of our business. I know that she will continue to be a champion of animation and remain connected to the projects and filmmakers that we have been working with the past several years.”  Osher expects to name a successor to Minghella in the coming weeks.

Minghella joined the company in 2005 as a director of creative affairs working in the office of the chairman of the Motion Picture Group under Pascal, where she collaborated closely with Belgrad on several projects, including the production of the highly successful James Bond film Casino Royale.  Since being named president of production of Sony Pictures Animation,  she has overseen the production of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and the upcoming releases Arthur Christmas, The Pirates!, and Hotel Transylvania. She also has been active bringing new projects and talent to the studio, such as Doug Sweetland, who will be directing The Familiars for producer Sam Raimi.

Tolmach and Belgrad, who have enjoyed one of the longest and most successful executive partnerships in recent motion picture history, have shared the role of president of Columbia Pictures since 2008. They began guiding the label as a team in 2003.

During their long-running tenure at Columbia Pictures, Tolmach was closely associated with Sam Raimi, Judd Apatow, Roland Emmerich, Adam McKay, Jimmy Miller, Neal Moritz, David Fincher and David Koepp, among other filmmakers.  He oversaw such blockbusters as 2012, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and The Pursuit of Happyness, as well as such groundbreaking comedies such as Superbad, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, and Zombieland. Belgrad has been with Columbia Pictures since 1989 and during his rise through the production ranks has been associated with such studio franchises as Men in Black and Bad Boys. He has worked closely with Adam Sandler and Will Smith for the last decade and has been instrumental in overseeing such films as The Social Network, The Karate Kid, Grown Ups, The Ugly Truth, Hancock, Fifty First Dates, Hitch, 21, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop, among others.

Under Lynton and Pascal’s leadership, Belgrad and Tolmach’s production team have brought unprecedented stability and success to the studio. So far this year,  Columbia Pictures has released a string of box office hits, including The Karate Kid, which has taken in more than $351 million worldwide to date; Grown Ups, the most successful film starring Adam Sandler ever released, with more than $269 million generated globally; Salt, the action-thriller starring Angelina Jolie that has been a domestic and international hit, with more than $290 million in box office receipts to date; Eat Pray Love, starring Julia Roberts, has so far generated more than $180 million worldwide; Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg’s The Other Guys, which has grossed over $226 million worldwide to date; and The Social Network, the studio’s most recent critical and commercial hit, which has generated more than $105 million around the world to date.

Columbia Pictures is set to ramp up production on some of the most prized and recognized franchises in motion picture history. In addition to Spider-Man, the studio is in production or pre-production on films such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Men in Black 3, Karate Kid 2, Total Recall, and a new chapter in the Ghostbusters franchise, among others.

About Sony Pictures EntertainmentSony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation.  SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; a global channel network; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of entertainment in more than 140 countries.  Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.sonypictures.com.

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