CBS Films, still seeking its first hit, replaces No. 2 executive

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With three movies under its belt and no box-office successes, CBS Films has replaced its No. 2 executive in a move that could signal changes in its production and development processes.

Bruce Tobey, who was named chief operating officer soon after CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves formed the movie unit in 2007, has exited in a surprise departure.


He is being replaced by Wolfgang Hammer, a production executive at Lionsgate who most recently served as executive vice president of production.

Many in Hollywood have been wondering whether Moonves would demand changes at CBS Films after its first movie, the Harrison Ford drama ‘Extraordinary Measures,’ flopped and its second movie, April’s Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy ‘The Back-Up Plan,’ took in a so-so $37.5 million at the domestic box office and $40 million overseas. The studio’s third movie, the Dwayne Johnson action flick ‘Faster,’ opened to a soft $12 million over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend.

Hammer comes to CBS with significantly less experience than Tobey had. The new COO worked at Lionsgate for only two years and prior to that spent two years as a junior-level director at entertainment finance company Media Rights Capital. Tobey had been an executive vice president at Paramount Pictures for five years, overseeing business and legal affairs for the studio, which is much larger than CBS or Lionsgate.

Hammer will be taking over more than just Tobey’s business and finance duties. In a sign that the studio is looking to change the way it picks and makes movies, the new COO will work directly with CBS Films President Amy Baer on creative affairs. He is expected to specifically focus on putting together talent packages for future films and on international distribution deals, which often provide crucial upfront money for movies’ budgets.

Though Hammer wasn’t at Lionsgate long enough to have any of his movies hit theaters, he was closely involved with several 2011 releases, including the Taylor Lautner thriller ‘Abducted’ and the teen drama ‘LOL’ starring Miley Cyrus.

“Wolfgang’s aptitude for innovative deal making, strong background in international financing, his excellent relationships with talent and his passion for the business of movies make him the perfect addition to our team,’ Baer said in a statement.


News of the shake-up was first reported by the weblog Vulture.

-- Ben Fritz