Murdoch talks about wooing DreamWorks chief to Fox
FORTUNE — Rupert Murdoch, in an exclusive interview released today in the new issue of Fortune, confirms the rumor churning through Hollywood: He is trying to lure Stacey Snider, the co-chairman and CEO of DreamWorks Studios, to 20th Century Fox.
“I’m a great admirer of her. And I’ve had long talks with her,” says Murdoch, who controls Fox through his publicly traded 21st Century Fox .
The 83-year-old mogul was hesitant to go into detail, but he confirmed that talks between Fox Studio chief Jim Gianopulos and Snider, 52, are ongoing. Snider, whose DreamWorks contract expires at year-end, “would be an addition to what we have” at Fox, Murdoch explains.
Snider and Gianopulos are relatively low-ego people, at least in Hollywood terms. “Absolutely,” Murdoch says. “I think, in any terms.”
The other power player in the mix here is Steven Spielberg, Snider’s partner at DreamWorks along with India’s Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. Spielberg founded DreamWorks 20 years ago with David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg, who now heads DreamWorks Animation , which was spun off in 2004. Spielberg reportedly had hoped to keep Snider at his privately held live-action studio. But Snider, who has not commented publicly and declined to talk to Fortune, is known to be restless. Though DreamWorks won accolades for its Spielberg-directed Lincoln, the studio has reduced its schedule to a few films a year. This year, Need for Speed, a nail-biter about a cross-country car race, was released in March, and The Hundred-Foot Journey, an adventure drama starring Helen Mirren, is due in August. DreamWorks has a deal with Walt Disney to distribute and market its films worldwide.
Moving to Fox would return Snider to a busy production slate. Before she arrived at DreamWorks in 2006, she chaired Universal Pictures, where she oversaw many hit franchises — Bourne, The Mummy, American Pie, The Fast and the Furious, Meet the Parents — and films like Erin Brockovich, A Beautiful Mind and Brokeback Mountain. Her success propelled her onto Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women list during her decade at Universal .
Murdoch has high hopes for expanding Fox’s slate. In the Fortune interview, he speaks excitedly about “one or two sequels to Avatar, which was the biggest film in history.”
“The end of ’16 is the first sequel,” he says. “If we make it, it will be the first time [Avatar director] Jim Cameron’s been on time or on budget. But he’s never lost me. When he finally comes through, they’re just huge hits.”
Click here to read the full Fortune Q&A with Murdoch. The print version of this interview incorrectly refers to the 21st Century Fox film studio. The studio is 20th Century Fox, while the studio’s parent was named 21st Century Fox when Murdoch split the TV-and-movie business apart from News Corp. last year. Apologies for the error.