In what it's dubbing an "unprecedented partnership," HarperCollins and Sony Pictures Entertainment are investing in the former team at Fox 2000 to find and produce content based on literary material.
HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray explained that the deal sprang up after Fox 2000 was shuttered in the wake of Disney's acquisition of 20th Century Fox, which had owned Fox 2000. When Murray heard that Elizabeth Gabler, the former head of Fox 2000 (who has run the studio since 1999) was out of a job, he immediately thought there might be an opportunity for her to work more closely with HarperCollins. (Murray has known Gabler professionally for years, as Fox 2000 has adapted a number of HarperCollins titles. The division was also known as one of the premiere destinations for literary material in Hollywood, having produced adaptations like Hidden Figures, Life of Pi, and The Devil Wears Prada).
The multi-year partnership, according to Murray, will see Gabler get funding, from both SPE and HC to source, package and potentially produce film and TV content that can be distributed across various platforms. Gabler will be working with the creative team she had at Fox--minus the book scouting department, which is currently employed at Fox's new owner, Disney--to find projects.
In a notable differences from other partnerships book publishers have launched in an effort to either produce movies or have their books optioned as source material, this deal, as Murray noted, will not be reliant on Gabler developing projects based solely on HarperCollins material. Nor will it be reliant on her even focusing specifically on books as source material. While Murray said a significant reason HC struck the deal is because "no one has a track record of adapting [literary material] for film like Elizabeth," he noted that HC and SPE "expect Elizabeth to follow her passions" and develop projects on whatever material she is drawn to, and feels will work in the market.
Murray added that, in addition to not being tethered to source material that HarperCollins has published, Gabler will not be required to distribute projects through SPE. "It's a producer deal," Murray explained, "where she has financing, a budget, and can create projects [that could live] at Sony, Warner Brothers, Netflix, Amazon or [network] television."
Gabler, who Murray said has a staff of 10, will be expected to produce an output similar to what she did at Fox 2000, which tended to release three to four feature films a year. Murray added that Gabler is also bringing over some orphaned projects from Fox 2000 to the new venture, which will be located on the SPE lot in Culver City and which does not yet have a name.