Culture Clash: Ortenberg Leaves Lionsgate for Weinsteins

Lionsgate’s Tom Ortenberg has joined The Weinstein Company as president of theatrical films.

 After 12 full years at Lionsgate, Tom Ortenberg has apparently had enough of making horror films and releasing movies that manage to stumble at the box office while missing the Oscars.

 

His contract at Lionsgate was up. He’s taken a job as president of theatrical films at The Weinstein Company.

 

Ortenberg, who came from the world of independent film back when Lionsgate was releasing witty dramas like “O,” has repeatedly clashed with Joe Drake, the president of the motion picture group who joined the company in 2007 on the strength of movies like “The Grudge” and “Harold and Kumar.”

 

Drake took the studio firmly in the direction of "torture porn," a genre the studio practically invented with the “Saw” franchise, recently releasing the fifth in the series, which has taken in $110 million so far.

 

Other recent genre releases by Lionsgate have not done as well, including “Disaster Movie,” which took in $14 million domestically, and “My Bloody Valentine,” which has taken in $40 million.

 

One issue over which the executives disagreed was a jam-packed release schedule last year designed to maximize a deal with Showtime rather than nurture the films’ theatrical release, according to one film executive with knowledge of the situation. 

 

At Weinstein, Ortenberg’s position has been newly created and will involve him working with domestic theatrical releases including distribution, acquisitions, and marketing and publicity of theatrical motion picture product released by both TWC and Dimension.

 

Ortenberg led Lionsgate as it garnered dozens of Academy Award nominations and wins, including the Best Picture prize for “Crash.”

 

“Tom’s arrival at the company is a major coup for us,” co-chairman Bob and Harvey Weinstein said in a statement. “His instincts, wide knowledge of all parts of the industry and impeccable track record is unbelievably good fortune for us …”

 

Ortenberg will begin working from TWC’S L.A. office next week and report to the Weinsteins.