MGM co-chairman, co-CEO Roger Birnbaum steps down

MUMBAI: Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum have announced that Birnbaum will transition to an exclusive producer role at the US studio MGM while Barber will become the sole chairman, CEO. Birnbaum will remain in his current offices in MGM‘s executive suite and will produce and develop new projects exclusively for the company.

The announcement marks a return to hands-on producing for Birnbaum. He will first serve as executive producer and oversee production of the José Padilha reboot of the 1980s classic ROBOCOP, which started principal photography on September 15. Other upcoming projects he plans to produce include films based on ‘Deathwish‘, ‘War Games‘ and ‘Magnificnet Seven‘.

Birnbaum said, "Gary and I decided, 2 years ago, to accept the challenge of joining MGM and restoring the company to its rightful place in the industry. I am very proud of where MGM is today. I have been in the film business a long time, and my greatest passion has always been producing. Now is the time for me to return to what I love to do the most...producing films. And the fact that I will be producing for MGM, with Gary, my partner and friend will be very gratifying."

Barber said, "I respect Roger‘s decision to return to his passion of ‘hands on‘ producing, and we are thrilled he has chosen to stay at MGM on an exclusive basis. We have been partners for almost 15 years and we have shared many successes together and I look forward to many more. I have the utmost confidence in Roger‘s ability to produce many of our key upcoming productions, and I could not be happier that we will continue to work together."

MGM Holdings lead director Ann Mather said, "The Board is very pleased with the performance of the company under Gary and Roger. We want to thank Roger and look forward to him producing upcoming MGM films and have full confidence in Gary continuing to lead the company with the talented management team in place."

Barber and Birnbaum were appointed MGM co-chairman, CEO‘s in December 2010 as the company emerged from bankruptcy. Since that time, they have secured a distribution and co-financing partnership with Sony Pictures Entertainment, which includes such films as ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo‘, ‘21 Jump Street‘ and the upcoming 23rd James Bond adventure ‘Skyfall‘. They solidified a partnership with Warner Brothers/New Line Cinema on the upcoming ‘The Hobbit‘ trilogy, beginning this December with ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey‘. Additionally, MGM is partnered with Paramount Pictures on several upcoming films including ‘GI Joe: Retaliation‘ and ‘Hansel And Gretel: Witch Hunters‘. 

Barber‘s and Birnbaum‘s reinvigorated MGM is also currently in production on the ‘Robocop‘ re-boot (along with partner Sony), scheduled for release in August 2013 and the recently wrapped ‘Carrie‘ (with Sony‘s Screen Gems) due March 2013. In April 2011, Barber and Birnbaum renewed MGM‘s worldwide home entertainment distribution pact with Fox Home Entertainment, extending the agreement through 2016.

Since the company emerged from bankruptcy, it has created new TV content including an original scripted television series, ‘Vikings‘, which MGM has developed and will distribute with History Channel, as well as new programming from MGM‘s classic catalogue, including the drama series ‘Teen Wolf‘ with MTV and is in development on the upcoming re-imagined unscripted series ‘Fame‘ partnering with Nigel Lythgoe. Additionally, the company has also announced distribution and output deals to broadcast MGM‘s new films, television series and library assets with companies worldwide.

Barber and Birnbaum will continue their long-term partnership at Spyglass Entertainment, a company they founded together in 1998, and which produced films like ‘The Sixth Sense‘. While no longer producing films through Spyglass, they continue to own the library assets of the company together.

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