Joe Drake reunites with Mandate partner for Good Universe
Former Lionsgate movie chief Joe Drake, who was squeezed out of his job as part of the independent studio's acquisition of Summit Entertainment, is joining his former Mandate Pictures business partner to launch a new company that is essentially Mandate 2.0.
Drake and Nathan Kahane, who was most recently president of Mandate, are starting a new film finance, sales and production company called Good Universe.
Mandate is best known for quirky low-budget films like "Juno" and "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle," as well as horror films like "The Grudge" from its Ghost House label, a joint venture with director Sam Raimi. Good Universe will continue both efforts and also seek to make bigger-budget projects that appeal to a broader audience and have the potential to spawn sequels.
Founded in 2003, Mandate was acquired by Lionsgate in 2007. Drake then took a job as chairman of that studio's motion picture department while Kahane ran Mandate independently.
Several of Drake and Kahane's staffers from Lionsgate and Mandate will be joining them at Good Universe.
Their move to essentially re-establish Mandate has been expected for several months, since former Summit co-chairmen Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger were given Drake's job.
Santa Monica-based Good Universe will take over Mandate's entire development slate, in which it will share ownership with Lionsgate, and will help manage Mandate movies soon hitting theaters, including August's "Hope Springs," starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell.
The first Good Universe movies expected to start production are both carry-overs from Mandate: "Oldboy," directed by Spike Lee and starring Josh Brolin, and "Last Vegas," starring Michael Douglas. Drake will sell foreign distribution rights for those pictures and others at the Cannes Film Festival later this month.
Lionsgate will maintain its ownership of Mandate's library of approximately 30 films, including last year's dark comedies "50/50" and "Young Adult," though Good Universe will provide management services for them.
Lionsgate is not expected to replace Kahane or keep Mandate open as an operating entity. The studio already has a significantly expanded film operation following the integration of Summit.
Drake's departure from Lionsgate ironically comes little more than a month after the blockbuster success of "The Hunger Games," which the executive oversaw from development through release. However, Friedman and Wachsberger were promised the top film jobs at Lionsgate as part of the Summit acquisition.
-- Ben Fritz
Photo: Joe Drake. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times