Anschutz Restructures Walden Media, Will Focus on Third-Party Productions

Anschutz Restructures Walden Media, Will Focus on Third-Party Productions

Company said it will continue to focus on finding uplifting, family-oriented projects

Anschutz Film Group is restructuring its film and television activities — notably "Narnia" production company Walden Media — and will now focus on projects submitted by a third partner, the company said Thursday.

The shakeup will also impact Walden's sister company Bristol Bay Productions, which produced "Ray."

The company said it will continue to focus on finding "uplifting" and "inspiring" projects that are family oriented, much as it traditionally has done with projects like "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and "Holes."

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The company said its decision will not impact upcoming co-productions like "The Giver," a Jeff Bridges film it is making with the Weinstein Co., and two Walden Family Theater television movies, "The Watsons Go to Birmingham" and "Dear Dumb Diary."

The company will also continue working on a reboot of "Benji" and a CGI version of "The Bernstein Bears" that it plans to produce with New Line Cinema.

"The company isn't going anywhere, we're just a refocusing of how we're going to approach our business," Jonathan Helfgot, executive vice president of worldwide marketing, told TheWrap.

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Roughly a dozen people out of Walden's 50 staffers will be laid off as part of the restructuring, Helfgot said. He said that the cuts will come across the company, but will mainly focus on the physical production and development teams. All of the employees who are let go have been informed.

Walden has had ups and downs at the box office over the years, with films like "Won't Back Down" and "Chasing Mavericks" failing to recoup their production budgets, but it has also had some sizable hits recently. Last year, "Parental Guidance," a Billy Crystal comedy it backed, made $119.7 million on a $25 million budget, and "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" grossed $325.8 million on a $79 million budget.

"It's not about the performance of the films, it's a strategic decision," Helfgot said.