Walden Media has announced a restructure as it emerged that David Weil, current CEO of parent company Anschutz Film Group (AFG), will leave the company at the end of the year.
Longtime general counsel and head of business affairs Frank Smith (pictured) becomes COO of Walden Media, the family producer behind the first three The Chronicles Of Narnia films and the Journey To The Center Of The Earth series.
Walden is supported by a renewable media fund backed by AFG that allows it to finance most third-party features, TV series and animated content as well as invest P&A funding and gap financing in select projects.
The first-look deal with 20th Century Fox remains intact, however Walden is free to partner with any distributors on those projects it co-finances and co-produces with outside partners.
Working alongside Smith and Walden Media president and co-founder Micheal Flaherty will be Chip Flaherty, who heads Walden Media’s Publishing division.
Longtime Walden finance executive Ryan Jones has been appointed CFO of Walden Media, while former Virgin Produced creative executive Naia Cucukov has been hired as vice-president of development and production.
The company’s two latest films are The Giver a co-production with The Weinstein Company starring Meryl Streep, Taylor Swift, Jeff Bridges, Alexander Skarsgård and Katie Holmes, that is scheduled to open in August 2014, and Everest, the Universal feature starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Josh Brolin, Jason Clarke and John Hawkes.
“The restructuring reflects how the industry is working today,” said Smith. “Now Walden can better leverage its capital in a more efficient manner, which means we can invest and collaborate on more films, and explore animation and television projects.
“Our initial meetings with studios, production companies, and agencies have been great, validating our approach and showing the great number of opportunities that are open to us.”
Walden Media’s development pipeline includes Flat Stanley, The Berenstain Bears, Carmen Sandiego, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and Hacksaw Ridge.