Un-experienced in the film industry, cable television veteran has been hired by Steven Spielberg to run his struggling DreamWorks studio.
Formerly head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies, Michael Wright left his position due to changes regarding Time Warner Inc. cable-TV Net work. As of Thursday, September 4th, Wright has been named chief executive of DreamWorks.
His predecessor is Stacey Snider, who has plans of making a move to 21st Century Fox’s Twentieth Century Fox film studio for a job in a senior position.
DreamWorks has been in financial distress from a series of early flops after the studio’s 2011 relaunch. Wright takes on the reins, when for the last three years the studio has only been able to afford the release of two films each year, which is far below their previously set goal.
The last time the company came out with a hit movie was “Lincoln” in 2012. The high-stakes adaptation of the videogame “Need for Speed” sputtered at the box office, and “The 100-Foot Journey,” this summer’s low budget drama, has made a decent performance.
According to people close to the company, DreamWorks receives support from Reliance Entertainment in India, which has lost money and invested more than $400 million.
Spielberg, who possesses a minority stake in DreamWorks, expressed the desire to rev up the company’s production pace in an interview.
“We have the resources to continue with our modest output and we are hopeful we are going to expand that in the next year or two,” Spielberg said. “Michael is not coming over here to do two to three movies per year; he’s coming for a larger workload.”
DreamWorks President Jeff Small added that the studio currently has the resources to make up to four pictures per year.
Another lingering question is whether Walt Disney Co. DIS -1.06%, which releases DreamWorks’ films and has provided it with at least $156 million in financing, will renew their deal that expires in 2016.
The primary focus now of Disney is on making franchise films based on intellectual property, which it already has or is associated with closely, like Marvel’s superhero movies and “Maleficent,” a recent hit, along with animation. There hasn’t been a good fit with DreamWorks’ output, which have been mainly live-action dramas.
Next week Spielberg will start directing a Cold War spy thriller starring Tom Hanks, followed by an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s book “The BFG,” which will both be co-financed by DreamWorks.
To be released in 2015, the drama “The Light Between the Oceans” is in the works by the studio.
Wright got to know his new partner through several television series that Spielberg produced for TNT, such as “Falling Skies” and the coming “Public Morals.”
Wright spoke about his change to movie making saying, “I absolutely have a lot to learn. I want to see us make films that reflect well on Steven and on the brand.”