Tom Rothman has made a surprise announcement: he’s leaving his post running 20th Century Fox Filmed Entertainment with Jim Gianopolous. Was he forced out? You can read between the lines from the exit memo he sent around today, reprinted below. Fox has had a tough year with lots of clunkers including “The Watch” (aka Neighborhood Watch), “This Means War,” “We Bought a Zoo,” “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” and the distribution of George Lucas’s vanity film, “Red Tails.”
Their hits were “Prometheus” and “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” but they were no “Avatar.” (That seems so long ago.) Now Jim Gianopolous will be all on his own. Fox is currently ranked 6th on the studio list by boxofficemojo.com, behind Lions Gate. How did that happen?
This may not be a good sign for two big Oscar-centric movies Fox is about to release, Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” and Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi.” I was counting on each to be hits. Hmmm….PS how long before the talented Peter Rice is running that whole studio?
Here’s Rothman’s memo:
“I have been at Fox for over 18 years, the bulk of my adult working life,” Rothman said. “In that time we have accomplished more than I ever imagined, from the founding and nurturing of Fox Searchlight, to overseeing the two biggest films in box office history, to keeping us consistently at the highest levels of industry profits, including this most recent strong fiscal year, and, most of all, making dozens of films that I believe will stand the test of time. I’m deeply proud of that run. But even more, I am eternally grateful to have had the honor and opportunity to work with the marvelous people here at Fox. I will miss them hugely. Still, I have done the same job, at the same place, for a very long time, and it is time for me to write a new chapter. I love 20th Century Fox and take great comfort knowing that we have an amazing slate of pictures in place for the next several years. I know that Jim and all my terrific colleagues at Fox, will continue our long tradition of winning ways, and I will help in the transition in any ways I can.”