The film development unit Random House launched in 2007, initially called Random House Films and then renamed and expanded into Random House Studio in 2012, has been sold to Fremantle Media North America.
FMNA, a TV production company which produces shows like The Price Is Right and The X Factor, plans on overseeing all television adaptations developed from Random House Studio properties. (FMNA is part of the RTL Group, owned, like PRH, by Bertelsmann.) China-based Meridian Entertainment, through a partnership with FMNA, will oversee film properties at Random House Studios.
Run by Peter Gethers, the unit was established to allow Random House to profit more from book-to-film adaptations of its titles. Diverging from what was then the standard model publishers were testing with film studios--which entailed partnerships like the ones between HarperCollins and Fox and Hachette and Warner Bros.--Random House Films was a bolder effort, with the publisher promising to co-finance and co-produce any film projects it launched.
Working initially with Focus Features, Random House Films released two films: 2007's Reservation Road (based on John Burnham Schwartz's novel) and 2011's One Day (based on David Nicholls' bestseller). A number of other books were in the pipeline for possible adaptation, though no other films were ever released by the unit.
In 2012, RH Films was rebranded Random House Studios and a TV unit, Random House Television, was launched. FMNA was brought on as the partner on the TV unit, to help produce and distribute projects. The first co-produced effort from RH Television and FMNA was Heartland Table, a show which bowed on the Food Network in 2014 and was based on chef Amy Thielen's cookbook, The New Midwestern Table. In 2014, Random House Studio inked a first look deal with Universal Pictures.
Speaking to the sale, Gethers, who will stay on as executive v-p of the Random House Studio division, said his team had been working with FMNA for two years and that it was "a perfect partnership." He said joining the two teams more fully will "allow us to work even closer together and help us grow." Gethers is also keeping his role at PRH as an editor-at-large.
Through the deal, Meridian will have the ability to develop, finance and produce Random House Studio's projects. The executives at RH Studio will also remain in their bi-coastal set-up, with the Los Angeles-based ones working out of FMNA's L.A. office, and the New York ones remaining at Penguin Random House's Manhattan headquarters.
PRH said RH Studio will continue to look for books by Random House authors to develop into film and TV properties. Ongoing TV projects at RH Studio currently in development include, among others, a half-hour series at Showtime based on Mat Johnson's book Loving Day and a TV movie at HBO about Rachel Carson. On the film side, Meridian will be handling in-development projects such as an adaptation of Graham Joyce's novel The Silent Land (with Focus Features) and an adaptation of Jo Baker's novel Longbourn (with Studio Canal).