Random House, Focus Features teaming up

Times Staff Writer

Random House Inc. and Focus Features will join forces in a new production entity, Random House Films, the companies announced Thursday.

The two firms will share financial, creative and production responsibilities for adapting books to film and turning film material into books.

Under the multiyear agreement, filmmakers will have access to thousands of books for which film rights are available from Random House Publishing, the world’s largest publisher, including more than 100 imprints such as Ballantine, Knopf, Bantam and Dell.


Depending on rights availability, Random House will be able to publish original screenplays and “making of” books of films that come out of the partnership.

“This is a terrific incentive for prospective authors and authors we like to publish,” said Random House spokesman Stuart Applebaum. “If they and their agents are agreeable, we may have a seamless creative experience, book publishing and moviemaking all through Random House and Focus Features.”

Novelist, screenwriter and longtime Random House editor Peter Gethers, who has edited former President Carter and Caroline Kennedy, was named president of Random House Films, which will be based in New York.

Focus Features, a unit of NBC Universal, is known for literary adaptations, including this year’s “The Constant Gardener,” “Brokeback Mountain” and “Pride and Prejudice.”

Applebaum called the new venture a “side business” and said, “We hope this will be a profit sector for Random House Inc. down the road.” But the new entity represents only a small portion of the publishing giant’s business portfolio. Of the handful of films anticipated each year, most are expected to have modest budgets.