Peter Rice


Peter Rice Biography

Peter Rice (born 1967) was born in the United Kingdom, graduated from the University of Nottingham in 1989, and began his career with Fox Filmed Entertainment in 1985 as an intern in the U.S. distribution and marketing office. Rice rose through the ranks within News Corporation, the entertainment conglomerate overseen by Rupert Murdoch. As a creative executive at Twentieth Century Fox, Rice worked on blockbuster hits, like Independence Day, and established relationships with up-and-coming filmmakers. The experiences made him the likely candidate for the position of president of production at Fox Searchlight, where he characteristically triumphed small-budgeted films to commercial and critical success. Although the executive experienced some failure with a new film division Fox Atomic, Rice managed to transform his success at Fox Searchlight into an opportunity to head the Fox television network's prime-time lineup. Despite rumors circling his ascension throughout the News Corporation, Peter Rice generally remained out of the spotlight throughout his achievements.

Early life

Peter Rice was born in 1967 and raised in Britain. He earned a degree from the University of Nottingham in 1989. Rice's father was a business associate of Rupert Murdoch, who had acquired half of the film studio Twentieth Century Fox in 1985. The family connection allowed Peter Rice to land an internship that same year with the head of U.S. distribution and marketing for Fox Filmed Entertainment Tom Sherak. The early internship opportunity fueled rumors that Rice was Murdoch's chosen heir to the Fox studio throne.

Career at Twentieth Century Fox

The Los Angeles Business Wire reported that Peter Rice rose from his internship in 1985 through the company ranks until he became the Senior Vice President of Production for Twentieth Century Fox. Rice was named the director of acquisitions at Fox in October 1994. Then, he became a director of production and was further promoted to vice president and finally senior vice president for Twentieth Century Fox. Rice served as a creative executive on films such as, Independence Day (1996 film) and Alien Resurrection. The chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment Bill Mechanic described Peter Rice's career at Twentieth Century Fox by commenting: "Peter Rice began his career at Fox and made his mark by finding and working with exciting new directors on innovative projects."

According to the Business Wire, at Fox, Rice had cultivated relationships with some of the most talented young filmmakers of the time, including Danny Boyle, Bryan Singer, Baz Luhrmann, Alex Proyas and the Hughes Brothers. Peter Rice worked as a creative executive on director Danny Boyle's A Life Less Ordinary and oversaw the director's The Beach. Rice also worked with director Baz Luhrmann in the development and production of his films, the musical Moulin Rouge and modern-day adaptation William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Peter Rice developed From Hell, a film vehicle chronicling the investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders for the Hughes Brothers to direct. Rice also functioned as the supervising creative executive on X-Men (film), the superhero film directed by Bryan Singer.

Career at Fox Searchlight

Fox Searchlight was launched in 1994 by Tom Rothman and was intended to be an art-film division for Fox that produced modestly budgeted movies that were received well by critics. Searchlight became a film-maker oriented company that focused on distinctive films directed by world-class international auteurs and exciting newcomers. Peter Rice became the president of production for Fox Searchlight in January 2000. When Rice came on board, Searchlight's best-received title was Boys Don't Cry. The film had centered on a real-life transgendered teenager that was slain in Nebraska and featured a performance from Hilary Swank that received a Best Actress Academy Award. Besides producing its own titles, Searchlight focused on acquiring independent films made by others and used its access to the Twentieth Century Fox label to distribute them.

According to Anne Thompson of the New York Magazine, Peter Rice instituted some guidelines for the Fox Searchlight division to follow. Rice wished to release no more than twelve movies a year - producing half of them and acquiring the rest. He also set a budget ceiling at 15 million dollars. The low budgets were made possible because the edgy scripts that the division would purchase attracted stars willing to take a pay cut. Before moving forward with production of any film, Rice wanted a movie to have two defined market niches: one if the film is executed perfectly and another if it is not. In order to maximize every film's potential, the target audiences were calibrated and resources were allocated accordingly. These guidelines allowed for Fox Searchlight to reach success theatrically on a number of its titles. Peter Rice also relied on his sales team, marketing chief Nancy Utley and distribution chief Stephen Gilula, to stick to the rules. Utley and Gilula inventively fine-tuned the sales approach for each film release in order to reach a film's target audience and to make a profit. Rice, Gilula, and Utley had radically different tastes, but all three needed to agree on buying or green-lighting a project. The collaboration resulted in Fox Searchlight releasing films from many different genres.

The New York Magazine profile on Rice goes on to explain that the first film that Peter Rice green-lighted for studio division was 2001's Kingdom Come (2001 film). The film was a dysfunctional-family comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg and LL Cool J and made 23 million dollars at the box office and on subsequent rentals and sales. Kingdom Come was profitable for the film division as its budget was only seven million dollars. The next year, with a modest staff of 43, Searchlight released seven films the collectively grossed more than 135 million dollars: One Hour Photo, Kissing Jessica Stein, Brown Sugar, Super Troopers, The Banger Sisters, The Good Girl, and Antwone Fisher. One Hour Photo was one of the first examples of a big-name star, Robin Williams, becoming attached to a Fox Searchlight feature. The Banger Sisters starred Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon on a budget of 10 million dollars. Peter Rice limited the producer Mark Johnson to the set budget, and because of the price tag, the film showed a profit.

Fox Searchlight continued its success into 2003 with Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, which opened strong against the high-profile sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and grossed more than 20 million dollars in ten days at the box office. The apocalyptic thriller's success was shared with the coming-of-age British soccer movie Bend It Like Beckham. Bend It Like Beckham ended its theatrical run with more than 30 million dollars at the United States box office on a budget of five million. In 2004, Rice and Searchlight released three successful films: Napoleon Dynamite, Sideways, and Garden State. Rice had purchased Napoleon Dynamite after seeing it at the Sundance Film Festival for 14 million dollars. Because of word-of-mouth buzz, the teen-oriented release earned 45 million dollars at the box office.

Throughout the rest of his time at Fox Searchlight, Rice and his team turned low-budget films such as Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, and Slumdog Millionaire into mainstream commercial and critical successes. Searchlight won the battle against Miramax for the rights to Little Miss Sunshine after the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. The film division agreed to purchase the film for 10 million dollars and 10 percent of the film's grosses. Peter Knegt at indieWIRE reported that Little Miss Sunshine went on to gross almost 60 million dollars at the box office. Juno and Slumdog Millionaire proved to be even more successful for Rice and Searchlight with grosses of more than 140 million dollars each.

Career at Fox Atomic

Beginning in 2006, Peter Rice oversaw a new Fox film division - Fox Atomic. Fox Atomic was officially formed in January 2007 around former chief operating officer John Hegeman and label head Debbie Liebling. According to Edward Wyatt with the New York Times, the new division was intended to target a younger audience by producing comedies and thrillers. Fox had positioned Atomic as a marketing venture with a purpose of attracting audiences that were not as influenced by mainstream television advertising. Peter Rice's success at Fox Searchlight made him the ideal candidate to head such a film division. After a string of under-performing releases, including Turistas, 28 Weeks Later, The Rocker, The Comebacks, and Miss March, Fox Atomic surrendered its marketing operations in January 2008 and was folded back into Fox's other film divisions.

Career at Fox Television Network

In March 2009, Peter Rice left his position as film chief at Fox Searchlight and was put in charge of the Fox Television network. The former head of the Fox network, Peter Liguori stepped down. News Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch announced the restructuring of the Los Angeles-based Fox business on March 12, 2009. The changes resulted in Peter Rice being named the chairman of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting. Rice was then required to report to chairman of the Fox Networks Group Tony Vinciquerra, who oversaw the cable networks and the business aspects of Fox Broadcasting, Fox International Channels and Fox Broadcasting programming. Peter Rice's departure from Fox Searchlight left Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula to jointly run the business under Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, the co-chairmen of Fox Filmed Entertainment.

Peter Rice's primary goal at Fox Broadcasting initially was to find a project to remove some of the burden of the network's ratings from American Idol. In its eighth season, American Idol was drawing an audience forty percent larger than the next most popular series, ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Although one of Fox's biggest bets at ratings, Glee, originated under Rice's predecessor Peter Liguori, the show gave Rice an opportunity to demonstrate his marketing abilities before the series premiered on May 19, 2009. The relationship between Peter Rice and the president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting, Kevin Reilly, was essential for success at the network during Rice's first year in television. Reilly was brought to Fox by Peter Liguori after he was ousted from NBC's prime-time line up. After Liguori left Fox, Reilly became Rice's underling.

According to a Los Angeles Times article on Rice, by January 2010, Peter Rice's responsibility began to grow beyond the flagship broadcast network and into cable programming. In addition to Fox Broadcasting, Rice was put in charge of programming the FX cable channel. The moves were made in an attempt to streamline the News Corporation. The extra responsibility for Rice at the television network prompted more rumors and predictions that he was being groomed by Rupert Murdoch for an even bigger job within the company. .




This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Peter_Rice_%28Chairman_of_Fox_Broadcasting%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.
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