Walden, AFG Restructures, Elevates Frank Smith to COO

Walden, AFG Restructures, Elevates Frank Smith to COO

The production and financing company will expand into television and animation

Walden Media and Anschutz Film Group has promoted general counsel Frank Smith to the position of COO as part of a broader corporate restructuring, the “Chronicles of Narnia” producer said Thursday.

Smith will oversee day-to-day operations as the company behind “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Bridge to Terabithia” expands into television and animation.

AFG CEO David Weil is stepping down at the end of the year, so Smith will run the show with the help of Walden co-founder and President Micheal Flaherty, publishing chief Chip Flaherty, CFO Ryan Jones and Naja Cucukov, VP of production and development.

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This regime will focus on co-financing and providing marketing support for films, TV shows and animated projects brought in by third parties and studio partners.

Walden's next movies are “The Giver,” an adaptation of the popular novel it is co-producing with the Weinstein Co., and “Everest,” which Walden and Cross Creek are co-financing for Universal and Working Title. It also maintains a first-look deal with Fox.

“The restructuring reflects how the industry is working today,” Smith said in a statement. “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.”