Universal Music Group made a big splash in the movie world last year, producing AMY – the award-winning documentary about the life and career of Amy Winehouse.
That movie (it really is a must-watch for anyone working in the business) has just been nominated for a huge prize – Outstanding British Film – at the prestigious BAFTA Awards on February 14, and is hotly tipped to get an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary.
So it perhaps makes sense that Universal – which has also had a hand in Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck and director Ron Howard’s forthcoming Beatles documentary – is ramping up its ambitions in Hollywood.
The major music company has just nabbed two renowned producers, David Blackman and Scott Landis, to lead its development and production of film, television and theatrical projects.
Their appointments are effective immediately, and both report jointly to UMG Executive Vice President Michele Anthony and Universal Music Publishing Group Chairman and CEO Jody Gerson.
(The hirings are given an extra twist of intrigue by Universal’s announcement this week that it’s starting to create virtual reality (VR) concert productions and ‘experiences’.)
Blackman, who was involved with films such as Last Vegas, The Devil Wears Prada and a variety of music-driven projects while running the company of Dreamgirls producer Laurence Mark, has been named to the newly created role of Head of Film and Television Development and Production at UMG.
He will oversee the development and production of film, television and other video projects globally across Universal Music, working closely with its labels, as well as coordinate projects with other Vivendi companies including Studio Canal.
Landis, a Tony- and Drama Desk Award-winning theater producer behind such productions as the critically acclaimed first-ever London revival of Funny Girl, and the Broadway productions of Twelfth Night/Richard III, starring Mark Rylance, Nice Work If You Can Get It, starring Matthew Broderick and Venus In Fur, among others, will serve as a special advisor on theatrical development and production.
“Music is not only essential to film, TV and theatre, but the stories behind our artists and their music offer narratives that provide a natural foundation to build compelling experiences for audiences.”
Jody Gerson, UMPG
In that role, he will assist the company in forging stronger ties with the theatre community, building partnerships and helping develop and produce projects based on Universal Music’s roster of artists and music library.
“Music is not only essential to film, television and theater, but the stories behind our artists and their music offer narratives that provide a natural foundation to build exciting and compelling experiences for audiences around the world,” Gerson said.
“With David and Scott, we’re focused on working with the Hollywood and Broadway communities on delivering stories that will delight fans, reach new audiences and open up new commercial opportunities for our songwriters and our legendary music catalog.”
Anthony added, “David and Scott will further grow Universal Music’s presence in film, television and theater by creating rich new opportunities beyond recorded music for our artists, labels and our unparalleled roster of current and catalog recordings. This is yet another important step in the evolution of Universal Music into a music-based entertainment company.”
Blackman will be based at the company’s Santa Monica headquarters, and Landis will remain in New York.
Blackman said, “Universal Music has already proven to be a fertile ground for film and television, and I’m looking forward to helping shepherd many, many more projects from the development stage to the screen. I can’t thank Jody and Michele enough for allowing me to take charge of this important priority for the company.”
Added Landis, “There’s a glorious treasure trove of possibilities in Universal Music Group’s amazing artist roster and song library, and I’m looking forward to helping unlock those gems and opening the door even wider to the theatrical community. I thank Jody and Michele for this incredible opportunity.”
In April 2014, UMG acquired Eagle Rock Entertainment, a film producer with 800 concert films and documentaries, to produce more video content in a wide variety of physical and digital formats.Music Business Worldwide