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McCormick Leaves WB to Produce as Studios Keep Trimming

by Anne Thompson
October 19, 2009 8:40 AM
1 Comment
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Thompson on Hollywood

Kevin McCormick is one of the good ones. He's got taste. He reads books. He cares about quality films for adults--the kind of movie that is in short supply these days because the studios aren't interested in making them anymore. McCormick is the head of production at Warner Bros., which lives and breathes franchise tentpoles, from Harry Potter to Batman.

Today the studio announced that McCormick, a veteran in an industry aiming more and more of its product (and that's what it is these days) at kids, is taking a producing deal, effective January 1. Variety reports on his upcoming projects:

The first titles to be produced at McCormick's production company are "Dead Spy Running," adapted by Stephen Gaghan; "The Lucky One," to be directed by Doug McGrath and produced by Denise Di Novi; "Arthur," with producers Larry Bresner and Chris Bender; and an untitled project with writer Eric Roth.

Make note of the fact that like the other studios who have recently let go of top executives (who are costly), McCormick is not being replaced. Studio president Jeff Robinov, who had the job before him, is taking over some of his duties and reassigning others to his also-very-expensive production staff.

The studios are cutting back on production. And they don't need as many execs. THIS IS WHERE IT'S GOING FOLKS. Expect trims and more trims in the coming months as the studios continue to downsize.

One of the movies I had always hoped that McCormick would somehow get made is Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. It would have starred Leonardo DiCaprio under the direction of Michael Mann. That's just the kind of movie that's in permanent limbo these days, stalled by a studio system that would make it too expensively for the potential returns--unless Mann and DiCaprio were willing to play in the indie sector. But wait, Warners has no indie division, they slashed all three of their indie-oriented subsidiaries, Warner Independent, Picturehouse and New Line, which is now a glorified production label.

The truly disturbing thing, as folks like McCormick leave the studios--and he actually helped to push through films such as Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd (with DreamWorks), The Corpse Bride and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ed Zwick's Blood Diamond and The Last Samurai, Chris Nolan's Insomnia, Steve Gaghan's Syriana, and the lit adaptations White Oleander and The Perfect Storm--is the movies that Hollywood simply won't make anymore.


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1 Comment

  • Joseph Angier | October 19, 2009 10:21 AMReply

    Haven't heard you this pessimistic Anne. But I guess, this is where it's going. Flipping channels yesterday I came across "Swimming with Sharks" (1994), whose plot pivoted partly on whether the producer played by Kevin Spacey could find and develop a movie for young people. Because after all, "all the studio movies were aimed at adults."

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