Warner Bros., Joel Silver Part Ways After 25 Years (Updated)

Warner Bros. will let its longtime production deal with the megaproducer lapse at the end of this year

Updated, 3:10 p.m. PT

Warner Bros. has all but ended its longtime production deal with Joel Silver, one of Hollywood’s biggest producers and a mainstay at the studio.

Silver’s deal with Warner concludes at the end of 2012, and the studio has no intention of renewing it, a studio executive told TheWrap.

Getty Images

The producer of iconic franchises like “Lethal Weapon” and “The Matrix” has a relationship with the studio dating back to the 1980s and founded his own Silver Pictures in 1985.

"There's nothing unsual about Joel’s situation. His contract will be up and creative people change studios all the time," Bert Fields, Silver's attorney, told TheWrap. "Joel has had many good friends at Warner Bros. and has made some oustanding films there. Now its time to move on."

There has been much speculation about where Silver might take his company's films in the future. Though Fields declined to discuss the future, his comments all but assure Warner will not be distributing them.

Silver’s specialty has long been the big-budget action flick, a trend that continued with his most recent franchise, the two Robert Downey Jr.-starring “Sherlock Holmes” movies.

Silver arrived later in the process of the franchise’s first film, a result of his relationship with Downey Jr., who demanded that his wife, Susan Downey, produce. His wife works for Silver and Silver also helped relaunch the actor’s career with 2005’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.”

However, the brash and bombastic Silver has also racked up a string of recent flops, including “Whiteout,” “Ninja Assassin” and “Speed Racer.” The latter was one of the larger misses in the studio’s history.

Even though a few of Silver’s most recent projects have been hits – “Project X,” “Unkown” and the “Holmes” movies – that was not enough to rescue his deal with the studio. 

Also Read: Warner Bros.' New Strategy Under Robinov: More Tentpoles!

Not helping matters is Silver's uneven relationship with Warner's chief Jeff Robinov. A 2010 New York Times profile unearthed that Silver exaggerated the extent of Robinov’s injuries after a motorcycle accident in 2004 because Robinov had not been returning his calls quickly enough.

That same profile points out that producers like Silver are something of an anachronism in 21st-century Hollywood.

Silver grew up idolizing producers of the 1930s and 40s like David O. Selznick — their power and extravagant lifestyles in particular.

Having earned millions from a long string of box office hits, he demonstrated a lavishness reserved for royalty, especially when it came to real estate.

There’s his Brentwood mansion, conspicuously titled “Casa De Plata,” which is Spanish for “House of Silver,” and Auldbrass, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house in Temassee, South Carolina, that Silver bought in 1986 and then spent millions restoring.

Deadline Hollywood first reported Warner Bros. would not be renewing Silver's deal.