Sony extends contract with Clint Culpepper to run Screen Gems

MUMBAI: Clint Culpepper has extended his contract with Sony Pictures Entertainment and will continue to oversee the studio’s Screen Gems division through 2012.

The announcement was made by Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairman Amy Pascal.

Under Culpepper’s leadership as president of the division, Screen Gems has emerged as one of the most consistent and successful studio-operated specialty film labels in the industry. Culpepper has run the division since 1998 delivering a diverse slate of motion pictures that includes films for horror fans, African American and urban audiences, thrillers, comedies and action movies.

Since Screen Gems inception as a film label, Culpepper and his team have achieved solid returns with moderately budgeted hits such as Stomp the Yard, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Vacancy, Mothman Prophecies, Arlington Road, When a Stranger Calls, and You Got Served, among others. The label has also successfully launched two thriving franchises with the Resident Evil and Underworld series of films.

Screen Gems’ most recent hits have included First Sunday, Untraceable and This Christmas.

“From Day One, Clint’s vision for Screen Gems was to offer opportunities to emerging filmmakers and creative voices with very distinctive stories to tell. There are very few executives in our industry who truly understand the genre and niche market as thoroughly. Clint’s grasp of this business and how these movies play in communities large and small has been vital to our continued success. He is masterful at developing great concepts and compelling stories. No one does it better than Clint and his entire team at Screen Gems,” said Pascal.

“From the moment I began my relationship with Sony Pictures Entertainment ten years ago, Yair has been a truly valued friend and colleague. His influence on Sony’s decision-making in the digital dawn has been profound and enduring. We will all benefit from his instincts and insights for many years to come,” said Sony Corporation chairman and CEO Sir Howard Stringer.

“Screen Gems has flourished and grown under Clint’s leadership and we couldn’t ask for a better executive to run this label. Over the years, Screen Gems has been consistently successful and they are an important part of the studio’s multi-label strategy which seeks to offer a diverse range of filmed entertainment programming to audiences all around the world. We are all proud of what Screen Gems has achieved and I am thrilled that Clint will continue to lead this label for many years to come,” said Lynton.

Upcoming Screen Gems films include the teen thriller Prom Night, directed by Nelson McCormick, Overbrook Entertainment’s Lakeview Terrace, a dramatic thriller directed by Neil LaBute and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington. The label recently wrapped production on a third installment of the Underworld franchise, titled Underworld: Rise of the Lycans, and production also recently concluded on the action movie Armored, starring Matt Dillon, Jean Reno and Laurence Fishburn. Screen Gems is about to wrap production on the teen comedy Fired up, and the first installment of a planned trilogy re-imagining the suspense thriller Step Father, starring Dylan Walsh and Sela Ward.

Screen Gems will soon initiate principal photography on Legion, a science fiction action thriller starring Paul Bettany, the teen comedy Mardi Gras, a suspense thriller titled Obsessed starring Beyonce and Ali Larter, and Phenom, a sports drama directed by David Anspaugh and starring Chris Brown

The name Screen Gems has a long and valued history with the studio. It was first incorporated in 1948 to serve as the television subsidiary of Columbia Pictures. While the company initially produced commercials, it quickly established itself as an innovator in creating, packaging and syndicating television shows and specials. Later Screen Gems branched out into broadcasting, recording, music publishing, audience testing and large scale merchandising, and eventually in 1974, Screen Gems became Columbia Pictures Television.

The dormant label was rekindled by Culpepper in 1998 and has since provided Sony an outlet to extend and expand its motion picture distribution business beyond the traditional slate considered by SPE.

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