Breaking: George Clooney ditches Warner Bros. for Sony Pictures

06.30.09 9 years ago

AP Photo

George Clooney is making a surprise move from Burbank to Culver City.  The actor/director/producer has been associated with Warner Bros. television and theatrical for almost 20 years, but announced that his production company Smokehouse Pictures would be moving to Sony Pictures.

In a press release issued earlier today, Clooney said, “Warner Bros. has been a great place to work and I’ve felt like part of a family for almost 20 years. So in moving on, I’m leaving a terrific company and a lot of dear friends. They’re a class act. In looking ahead, I’m tremendously excited to be working at Sony Pictures, and we all feel like it’s a perfect match for Smokehouse. Grant Heslov and I hope to deliver the kind of films that will make them proud.”

Clooney’s development company lasted nine years at Warner Bros. — an offshoot from a company he originally formed with frequent collaborator Steven Soderbergh.  Some of the film’s Clooney and then new partner Grant Heslov spearheaded at the studio included “Syrianna,” “Michael Clayton” and “Good Night, and Good Luck.”  Clooney has also been a producer or executive producer on films such as “Leatherheads,” “Far From Heaven,” “Insomnia,” “The Jacket” and “A Scanner Darkly.” 

Obviously dabbling more in prestige pictures than blockbusters, the company will bring a new look to the Sony Pictures slate which has rarely factored into awards season in the past decade.  While Clooney also starred in the profitable “Ocean’s Eleven” franchise for the studio, such vanity projects may have been too much for Warner Bros., who already a number of awards-friendly producers on their lot including longtime associate Clint Eastwood.  That said, Clooney still has a number of films currently in development at the WB including:

“The Challenge.”
Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin. An adaptation of Jonathan Mahler”s nonfiction book chronicling the historic Supreme Court case in which two lawyers sued the Bush administration on behalf of accused terrorist Salim Hamdan.

“Our Brand Is Crisis”
A satirical comedy about American spin doctors competing in the same Presidential election in Bolivia. Based on the documentary by Rachel Boynton, with a script by Peter Straughan.

“Farragut North”
An adaptation of Beau Willimon”s critically acclaimed play, set during the Iowa primary of a presidential race.

“Escape From Tehran”
The true story of how the CIA used a fake movie project to smuggle hostages out of 1979 Tehran. Chris Terrio is writing the screenplay.

“The Tourist”
A contemporary spy thriller about a spy who risks everything to reveal a conspiracy after he’s accused of a murder he didn’t commit. Based on the bestselling book by Olen Steinhauer. Tony Peckham is writing the screenplay.

“The Innocent Man”
Based on the bestselling nonfiction book by John Grisham, the true story of murder and injustice in a small town in Oklahoma. Adapted by David Gordon Green.

It’s unclear if any of those pictures will stay at Warner Bros., move to Sony or become co-productions between the two studios.

There is no comment from WB on the news at this time.

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