John Penotti will replace Jim Tauber as president of Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, which has formed a new division called SKE Global that’s a joint venture with Ivanhoe Pictures — the internationally-focused production house founded by financier Robert Friedland and producer Penotti. The announcement was made Tuesday by SKE founder and CEO Sidney Kimmel and Ivanhoe Pictures chairman Friedland.
SKE Global will co-finance and co-produce a slate of local language films in China, South Korea, India and other international territories. Most notably, SKE Global will have the right to participate in Ivanhoe’s previously announced ten-picture “India slate” with Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions. In addition, SKE Global will look to mine the SKE and Ivanhoe Pictures’ libraries, a combined 70 English language films, for potential local language remake opportunities.
Tauber recently announced his retirement from Hollywood in order to open a private psychotherapy practice with his wife.
SKE’s president of Production Carla Hacken will work with Penotti on the company’s ongoing and imminent expansion plans. Hacken will continue to be directly responsible for SKE’s growing English-language film and television projects. Penotti and Hacken each report directly to Kimmel.
Penotti, who has produced or executive produced more than 30 films, has a long working relationship with Kimmel. He headed the successful production company GreeneStreet Films — of which Kimmel was an initial investor — and produced such films as the Best Picture nominee “In the Bedroom,” Robert Altman’s “A Prairie Home Companion” and many others. Penotti started in the film business as an assistant director for legendary director Sidney Lumet.
Penotti, who continues as vice chairman of the Ivanhoe board of directors, will maintain oversight of the company’s Blumhouse deal, and its multi-year, local-language partnership with Fox International Productions.
“John is a long time collaborator and friend, and I couldn’t be more pleased he’s coming aboard as President. He is tireless and his plans for international co-productions, which he started at Ivanhoe, are very exciting,” said Kimmel.
“Sidney Kimmel is the perfect partner to help Ivanhoe Pictures continue our global expansion. We look forward to a long and prosperous venture with the SKE team,” said Friedland.
“It gives me great pleasure to rekindle my professional relationship with Sidney, for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration. SKE has been synonymous with quality independent filmmaking for many years. To now be part of this revered organization and also help launch SKE Global is a great privilege,” added Penotti.
“Blumhouse is excited about the increased potential of this new company as it will add even more strength to our international partnership. We look forward to expanding our local language opportunities,” remarked Blum.
The SKE Global deal was negotiated for Ivanhoe by Brian Kornreich and Gary Gartner, and for Sidney Kimmel Entertainment by Ziffren Brittenham.
Under Carla Hacken’s tenure, SKE has three motion picture releases slated for 2015, including the upcoming “Age of Adaline” starring Blake Lively and Harrison Ford, directed by Lee Toland Krieger for release via Lionsgate later this month; and two films initiated by Hacken shortly after she assumed her role one year ago, including “Demolition,” a co-production with Black Label, directed by Jean Marc Valle and starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Naomi Watts for release by Fox Searchlight later this year; and the comedy “Sleeping With Other People,” starring Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Adam Scott and Amanda Peet, directed by Leslye Headland (“”Bachelorette) from her original screenplay, to be released by IFC.
Other projects slated to go in 2015 include: “Book of Henry,” an original screenplay written by bestselling novelist Gregg Hurwitz to be directed by Colin Trevorrow (“Jurassic World”) and the suspenseful crime drama “Comancheria” starring Jeff Bridges, written by Taylor Sheridan (“Sicario”) and to be directed by David Mackenzie (“Starred Up”). Chris Pine and Ben Foster are in final negotiations to star.
SKE is in active development on the limited television series “Busted,” a police crime-thriller based on the true exploits and reporting by Pulitzer Prize winning reporters Wendy Ruderman and Barbara Laker. The series will be directed by David Frankel (“The Devil Wears Prada”) and written by Don Roos (“Marley and Me”). SKE is producing with Anonymous Content (“True Detective”).