Former Fox, Disney executive Oren Aviv joins new Robert Simonds studio

Former Fox, Disney exec Oren Aviv joins Robert Simonds' as-yet-unnamed movie studio

Producer Robert Simonds' new film studio still doesn't have a name, but pieces of the puzzle are coming together.

The mysterious movie and television company has hired film industry veteran Oren Aviv, the former chief marketing officer for 20th Century Fox Film. It's the latest move for the company backed by the investment group TPG Growth and the Chinese private equity firm Hony Capital.

Aviv, who was let go by Fox last fall, will oversee the development, production and marketing of movies at the new studio, which plans to release up to 10 films a year. He will serve as president and chief content officer for the company's motion picture division.

As the major Hollywood studios increasingly depend on big, expensive franchises for their box-office firepower, Simonds and his company are looking for more of a mid-budget slate, with films that cost $20 million to $60 million to make.

"The major studios are making fewer but more expensive films, and there's a vacuum that's been created," Simonds said in an interview.

The studio is also one of the latest entertainment companies to attract interest from investors in China. Jeff Robinov's new venture, Studio 8, recently announced a major investment from the Shanghai-based conglomerate Fosun International. Robinov left Burbank-based film studio Warner Bros. in 2013. 

Describing the company as "next-generation," the executives said the studio would be nimble enough to respond quickly to major changes in the industry, including the fast rise of China as a film powerhouse and video streaming companies such as Netflix.

"We're actually building the operation from the ground up with all these tectonic shifts in mind," Aviv said.

The company has promised movies in multiple genres with major stars in signature roles, though no projects have been announced yet.

Simonds said there are currently 20 projects in various stages of development, all with scripts and stars attached to them, though he declined to name any of the actors involved. He said he expected to announce six films in the coming months.

On the TV side, NBC recently picked up the Katherine Heigl drama series “State of Affairs," which debuts in November.  

Aviv's successes at Fox included the launch of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," "X-Men: First Class" and the animated tropical bird film "Rio." Before his tenure at Fox, Aviv ran film production at Walt Disney Studios for five years.

His is the latest high-profile hire for Simonds' 4-month-old studio, following the addition of former Viacom Entertainment chief operating officer Thomas McGrath earlier this year.

Follow Ryan Faughnder on Twitter for more entertainment business coverage: @rfaughnder

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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