NEW YORK, Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- In a unique arrangement that will provide authors with a wider range of audiences and readers, and provide filmmakers with access to a diverse array of material, Random House, Inc., the book publishing division of Bertelsmann AG, and the film company Focus Features, part of NBC Universal, are embarking on a unique multi-year creative and strategic filmmaking partnership. The agreement was announced today by Focus Co-Presidents David Linde and James Schamus and Random House Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Peter Olson.
To help implement the new filmmaking partnership, the publisher has formed Random House Films, reporting to Mr. Olson, who has named Peter Gethers President of the new division. The terms of the deal call for the companies to develop movies together and co-finance and co-produce a substantial slate of feature films for theatrical release, all based on books published by Random House imprints in North America and internationally.
The partnership's films will be derived from newly published, forthcoming, and backlist titles, reflecting the enormous range of Random House titles -- adult, children's, young reader's, and religious and inspirational -- for which motion picture rights are available and can be acquired. Random House and Focus will jointly acquire film rights for the books and partner together on script development, director selection, all phases of production, and marketing and publicity.
Some material will be developed and produced at Focus' sibling production unit Rogue Pictures, of which Mr. Linde is president. Films co-produced by Focus or Rogue with Random House Films will be jointly owned, with Focus holding worldwide distribution and sales rights.
The agreement also has book-publishing components; Random House, pending rights availability, will be able to publish original screenplays and "making of" books of films that come out of the partnership. Additionally, if Focus develops an original screenplay which the partners believe can be turned into a novel or nonfiction book, Random House, through the author's agent, will have the opportunity to become that book's publisher.
Focus has produced and distributed several films which have literary origins. These include the Academy Award-winning The Pianist (adapted by Ronald Harwood from the memoir by Wladyslaw Szpilman) and The Motorcycle Diaries (adapted by Jose Rivera from the books by Ernesto Che Guevara and Alberto Granado); the recent hit The Constant Gardener (adapted by Jeffrey Caine from the John le Carre novel); and this holiday season's new releases Pride & Prejudice (adapted by Deborah Moggach from the Jane Austen novel), The Ice Harvest (adapted by Richard Russo and Robert Benton from the Scott Phillips novel), and Brokeback Mountain (adapted by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana from the short story by Annie Proulx).
Random House is the world's largest trade book publisher, with more than 100 publishing imprints around the world, including Ballantine, Bantam, Crown, Dell, Doubleday, Knopf, and many which have the Random House name. Mr. Gethers will be based in New York and will be responsible for every aspect of the company's filmmaking activities. He will work with Random House publishers and editors worldwide to identify and evaluate books of theirs which have the potential to be made into movies by the partnership, and with Focus executives on all aspects of the filmmaking process.
A former Random House, Inc. publisher and, since 1991, Vice President and Editor-at-Large for Random House, Inc., Mr. Gethers has edited dozens of authors, among them Jimmy Carter, William Goldman, Caroline Kennedy, Joe Klein, and Robert Hughes. He is also an author of bestselling fiction (the most recent of which is under a pseudonym) and nonfiction, and has two of his own screenplays currently being readied for filming. Mr. Gethers has also scripted telefilms and written and produced several television series.
Executive Story Editors at Random House Films in New York will be Claudia Herr, who also continues as an Associate Editor for Random House, Inc., and Valerie Cates.
Mr. Olson commented, "In addition to becoming a hoped-for profit-making division for us, Random House Films will enable us to sell many more copies of the books we make as films as well as help us bring new authors to our imprints. In Focus Features, we have a partner with great taste, consummate filmmaking expertise, proven financial discipline, and real marketing savvy. In Peter Gethers, with his dual publishing and filmmaking sensibilities and connections, we have an ideal leader for Random House Films."
Messrs. Linde and Schamus said, "This partnership affords us unprecedented and exciting access to a wealth of material from which great movies can be made. Random House is a pillar of the publishing world, and we're proud to marry our resources with theirs for what will be a long and productive relationship. Their extraordinary taste and powerful business acumen, combined with their enduring respect for writers, make them perfectly positioned to become true partners for the kinds of films Focus loves to make."
Mr. Gethers added, "We are thrilled to have David Linde and James Schamus and their Focus Features team as our filmmaking partners. There are so many reasons that these two companies fit together so well in this venture, but perhaps the most important is that Focus has the same level of trust and support of their filmmakers that we have with our authors. Their films evince a clear respect for the written word, a keen understanding of the creative process, and the knowledge of how to turn fine books into fine films."
Current and upcoming Focus Features releases include Fernando Meirelles' The Constant Gardener, starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz; Joe Wright's Pride & Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley; Harold Ramis' The Ice Harvest, starring John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, and Connie Nielsen; Sanaa Hamri's Something New, starring Sanaa Lathan and Simon Baker; Rian Johnson's Brick, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt (winner of a Special Jury Prize at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival); Gaby Dellal's On a Clear Day, starring Peter Mullan and Brenda Blethyn; Peter Cattaneo's family film Opal Dream; Phillip Noyce's Hotstuff, starring Tim Robbins and Derek Luke; Allen Coulter's Truth, Justice and the American Way, starring Adrien Brody, Ben Affleck, and Diane Lane; Shane Acker's animated fantasy epic 9, produced by Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov and Jim Lemley & Dana Ginsburg; and Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain (winner of the Golden Lion Award for Best Picture at the 2005 Venice International Film Festival), starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Focus Features (www.focusfeatures.com) is a motion picture production, financing, and worldwide distribution company committed to bringing moviegoers the most original stories from the world's most innovative filmmakers.
Focus Features and Rogue Pictures are part of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% controlled by Vivendi Universal.
Random House, Inc., the world's largest English-language trade book publisher, publishes many of the foremost and most popular fiction and nonfiction authors in hardcover, trade and mass market paperback, audio, electronic, digital, and other formats. Random House, Inc. (www.randomhouse.com) is the U.S. division of Random House, the book division of Bertelsmann AG, one of the world's leading media companies. Books published by Random House, Inc. have won the most major awards of any publishing company, including the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Newberry Medal. Among the dozens of Random House, Inc. publishing divisions and imprints in the U.S. are the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, the Crown Publishing Group, the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, the Knopf Publishing Group, Fodor's Travel Guides, Random House Children's Books, the Random House Publishing Group, and the Random House Audio Publishing Group. Random House's publishing companies in Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and Korea are publishing leaders in their territories.
Source: Focus Features; Random House, Inc.