Sony Pictures Worldwide has elevated two executives, Michael Helfand and Joe Matukewicz, to lead the acquisitions business and its low-budget label Studio 6.
Helfand and Matukewicz will report to Steve Bersch, who remains president of the unit and was tapped to lead Sony label Screen Gems in February after longtime executive Clint Culpepper stepped down. The pair will handle day-to-day in addition to producing indie titles and rolling out international films.
“Together, Michael and Joe have been driving forces behind the divisions’ most successful and anticipated titles including: Fede Alvarez’s hit thriller ‘Don’t Breathe,’ the ‘Insidious’ franchise [and] Angela Robinson’s critically-acclaimed ‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,'” Bersch wrote.
In light of the promotions, Jon Freedberg takes the role of SVP business development and content strategy for SPWA. Read the full memo from Bersch to the film group:
I’d like to share some important news in our Worldwide Acquisitions and Stage 6 Films divisions: Michael Helfand, EVP Business and Strategic Operations, and Joe Matukewicz, EVP of Acquisitions, have been named Co-Heads of SPWA and its Stage 6 Films label. They will continue their oversight of the business and creative operations, respectively, while expanding their roles to jointly oversee the day-to-day management of SPWA’s wide-ranging properties and ventures, including its key focus on independently-produced motion picture and episodic content for various distribution platforms. They will continue to report to me.
Together, Michael and Joe have been driving forces behind the divisions’ most successful and anticipated titles including: Fede Alvarez’s hit thriller Don’t Breathe, the Insidious franchise, Angela Robinson’s critically-acclaimed Professor Marston and the Wonder Women; Oscar®-winning and nominated films Spotlight, Manchester By The Sea, Arrival, and Nebraska; as well as acquisition breakouts Hello, My Name is Doris, Dope, Whiplash, Leave No Trace, Hearts Beat Loud, and Search, which will be released with Screen Gems later this year. SPWA’s successful episodic content has included House of Cards, Night Manager and The Tudors. The division is currently in production on Greyhound, written by and starring Tom Hanks and directed by Aaron Schneider, and in pre-production on the reimagined The Grudge.
Since Joe joined SPWA in 2011, he has played a vital role in SPWA’s overall creative strategy, guiding the company’s early investments in many critically-acclaimed and award-winning films for all of SPE’s distribution channels. In his 20+ years of industry experience, he has established himself as a leader in the film community, effectively bridging independent film and major studio fare.
Michael became SPWA’s lead operations executive in 2007, driving SPWA’s overall business strategy and negotiations with filmmakers, producers and partners, yielding the division’s years-long successful run of theatrical, episodic and multi-platform pictures. Michael has spent the last 19 years of a 26+ year career at SPE where he’s held executive positions in the motion picture, television and family entertainment divisions. His responsibilities have ranged from sourcing, developing, producing, and acquiring live action and animated long form and episodic content to driving domestic and international distribution and marketing opportunities.
With this change, Jon Freedberg, will assume the role of SVP Business Development and Content Strategy for SPWA. His scope will expand beyond business development to include additional operational responsibilities for content strategy and value creation, driving new revenue opportunities with all ancillary and distribution outlets, and coordinating international independent theatrical releases. Jon has been invaluable in driving the consistent profitability of SPWA by opening new revenue channels throughout the world.
We have a growing roster of films and episodic programming that will flourish under Michael, Joe and Jon’s proven leadership. Please join me in congratulating them.