June 30, 2009

Clooney ditches Warner for Sony Pictures

U.S. actor George Clooney is taking his production company from Warner Brothers to Sony where he's negotiating a two-year deal, Sony officials say.

Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal confirmed Clooney's Smokehouse Pictures is in final negotiations to ditch Warner in a deal that industry sources say illustrates how studios aren't willing to pay A-list actor-producers as much in light of declining DVD sales and corporate cutbacks, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Citing unnamed sources, the Times said Warner offered a renewal to Clooney but that he wanted a change.

The newspaper said the move seems like a strange fit, since Sony is best known for crowd-pleasing blockbusters while Clooney favors smaller, arty movies. Warner's relationship with Clooney goes back to ER and Batman and Robin, but his box-office appeal peaked in 2001 with Ocean's Eleven, with his recent movies being riskier projects such as Syriana and The Good German.

Warner Brothers has been a great place to work and I've felt like part of a family for almost 20 years, Clooney said in Sony's statement. So in moving on, I'm leaving a terrific company and a lot of dear friends.