With Stacey Snider's planned exit from DreamWorks, the co-chair and CEO has handed off the day-to-day creative reins to production president Holly Bario, who is one of the lead candidates to succeed the executive when her contract expires at year end.
Steven Spielberg has met with potential hires, including former Lionsgate and Paramount executive Allison Shearmur (who is out of the running), but has not settled on anyone and may wind up sticking with his current leadership team when Snider departs for a new job at Fox, according to people familiar with the situation.
Meanwhile, at DreamWorks, Spielberg has been working closely with Bario to bolster his comfort level with the executive. At the same time, the filmmaker has become more hands-on in the development process and in making other key creative decisions at the company. On the business side, Spielberg will continue to rely heavily on DreamWorks' president and chief operating officer Jeff Small, these sources said.
Although Snider is still under contract for the remainder of 2014, she has intentionally stepped back and has little if any involvement with projects scheduled to come out after her tenure ends. One insider said that Snider no longer comes into the office every day.
Bario joined DreamWorks in 2008 and previously served as executive VP of production at Universal Pictures. She spent more than a decade at the studio working on "Knocked Up," "The Fast and the Furious" franchise" and "Meet the Parents." Her first job was as an assistant to film and theater producer Marc Platt.
There had been erroneous industry rumors that Platt might succeed Snider (the two previously worked together at Universal and TriStar Pictures), but the producer has no interest in running DreamWorks. Platt is a producer on Spielberg's next movie, an untitled Cold War spy thriller starring Tom Hanks that begins shooting in September, and he and Spielberg may collaborate on future films. The Hanks film, which will be co-financed and distributed internationally by Fox and domestically by Disney, is currently being revised by Joel and Ethan Coen and will be released October 16, 2015.
Spielberg, who hasn't directed a film since 2012′s "Lincoln," also plans to direct an adaptation of Roald Dahl's childrens' book "The BFG," which will hit theaters on July 1, 2016.
DreamWorks, which continues to be funded by India's Reliance Entertainment, has been forced to scale back its ambitions, budgets and number of films it produces each year. Going forward, it plans to make roughly four pictures annually. The company's most recent films, such as "Need for Speed," "Delivery Man" and "The Fifth Estate," struggled at the box office.
Small, who has been at DreamWorks since 2006 as its COO and president, played a central role in raising financing for the company three years later from Reliance and JPMorgan Securities after DreamWorks separated from Paramount Pictures and had to relaunch as an independent operation. He also helped engineer DreamWorks' distribution deal with Disney.
A DreamWorks spokesman declined to comment.