Spyglass Entertainment

by Mack Bleach
Spyglass logo


245 N. Beverly Dr.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
310.443.5800 (Tel)
310.443.5912 (Fax)

ORIGINS [1][2]
Co-founded by veteran producers and executives Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum in 1998, Spyglass Entertainment Group, LLC, is a small, private American production company that was forged from the joint investments from The Walt Disney Company—a later distributor for them—and several European investors, including Scandinavia’s Svensk Films, Portugal’s Lusomundo, Germany’s Kirch Group, and Italy’s Mediaset. Its current lone European distributor is StudioCanal UK. The Cerberus Capital Group, a private equity firm, acts as its parent holding company.

Birnbaum and Barber

Birnbaum and Barber

Gary Barber – Co-founder, Co-chairman, Co-CEO
Roger Birnbaum – Co-founder, Co-chairman, Co-CEO
Jonathan Glickman – President
Jose Gutierrez – CFO, Executive VP
Peter Oillataguerre – Executive VP of Production
Rebekah Rudd – Executive VP of Post-Production

As a younger, smaller production house, Spyglass is owned and maintained by other companies and has either co-financed, co-distributed, and most importantly, co-produced, its films alongside other production groups; never has it produced a film on its own. However, Spyglass is known to finance and produce television and films for international distribution purposes, partnering with Canal Plus for television distribution in France, Sweden and Poland, Sogecable S.A. for Spanish television, Pony Canyon Inc. for distribution in Japan, and Forum Film Ltd. for Israeli cinema [2].

Since its inception in 1998, the company has released films with every one of the “Big Six” film studios, garnering over $5 billion in global sales.  Spyglass has co-produced a variety of different types of films for over a decade, including, most notably, the $661-million-dollar worldwide launch of The Sixth Sense (1999), followed by Bruce Almighty (2003), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005) Star Trek (2009), and Get Him to the Greek (2010). Prior to Spyglass and MGM’s merger in 2010, The Sixth Sense, Bruce Almighty, and Seabiscuit (2003), dominated domestic box offices, helping to bring US totals to nearly $2 billion in revenue before the end of the decade.  Spyglass films have collected over 34 Oscar nominations and 3 wins.

Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment

Theatrical poster

The Sixth Sense (1999)
Produced for Disney’s Hollywood Pictures affiliate, the M. Night Shyamalan-directed thriller pic starring Bruce Willis earned six Oscar nominations and grossed over $500 million worldwide, ranking it as the ninth highest grossing film in history at the time. Its commercial success confirmed investors’ faith in Barber and Birnbaum and was the company’s first breakthrough [2].


Theatrical poster



Bruce Almighty (2003)
Its most important film of the 2003-2004 releases, the Jim Carrey comedy pulled in nearly $500 million worldwide and its particular international draw heavily bolstered Spyglass’ financial standing through the international rights it acquired with co-financing partners overseas [2].

Theatrical poster

Seabiscuit (2003)
Coming after a split with Disney and a proud new partnership with co-financier DreamWorks, the film adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s novel about the famous racehorse, starring Tobey Maguire, proved to be a commercial and critical success that earned seven Oscar nominations. Spyglass put up half the budget with Universal Pictures, agreeing to rights for all international markets while Universal handled domestic markets [2].

Theatrical poster

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Based on the best-selling novel by Arthur Golden, the Rob Marshall-directed, Steven Spielberg-produced and Spyglass-produced drama starring Ken Watanabe and Michelle Yeoh garnered three Oscars out of its six nominations, including Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design in 2006 [5].




By the end of the decade, with analogous companies like Bel-Air, Mutual Film, Alcon, Mandalay, and New Regency facing financial ruin and scaling back activity, Spyglass’ success in the movie business was considered a fluke in the system. Because Spyglass Entertainment Television division’s debut endeavor, Miracles, failed in 2004, followed by the television failures of The Ranch and Out of the Shadows, Spyglass devoted itself to a strictly film content producer, and throughout the 2007-2008 year was especially prolific, producing fifteen films, from The Lookout (2007) to Four Christmases (2008). Today, Spyglass’ competition consists of Beacon Pictures, Imagine Entertainment, and IFC. [2][6]

MERGER [7][8]
Around Christmas 2010, the ailing Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. (MGM) was ready to declare bankruptcy when Spyglass, one of the studio’s creditors, wrote off nearly $5 billion in debts, accumulated interest and fees in a trade for ownership of MGM, although both Spyglass and MGM would be considered separate entities. Barber and Birnbaum became co-charman and co-CEOs of the studio, despite Spyglass’ stake being reduced from 5% to 1% in a move by business magnate Carl Icahn, who, as a 14% owner, agreed after the plan was re-packaged to exclude titles from the Spyglass archives.

Get Him to the Greek (2010) Trailer [9]
One of Spyglass’ first co-produced films following the merger, and a highly successful comedy.

Since the merger, Spyglass has scaled back its operation, and only produces several films a year [2], if that, which includes Dinner for Schmucks (2010), The Tourist (2010), No Strings Attached (2011), and, most recently, The Vow (2012).

  • Spyglass is currently attached to the action-adventure film adaptation of Radical Comics’ Hercules: The Thracian Wars (2014), which starts pre-production in May, starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Ian McShane.
  • Barber, Birnbaum, and Glickman (as Spyglass Entertainment) are signed on as producers for Ironbow: The Legend of William Tell, a version of the Swiss folk hero’s legendary creation of the Swiss Confederation, written by Jay Wolpert and directed by Justin Chadwick.
  • The trio are also producers, along with Robert De Niro, on The Undomestic Goddess, a film in development based on Sophie Kinsella’s novel of the same name.
  • Spyglass’ producers have teamed up with writer/director Brian Koppelman and several other producers in the development of The Game, a film adapation of Neil Strauss’ memoir as a pickup artist, starring Josh Gad.
  • In another adaptation, Spyglass has signed on as co-producer of the 1979 remake of the sci-fi/horror film, The Brood, written by Cory Goodman and directed by Breck Eisner.
  • Spyglass is behind Spanky Johnson: Monster Hunter (2014), a comedy about a boy who is forced to assume his father’s monster hunting business, starring Dan Fogler, who also appeared in Spyglass’ 2007 comedy success, Balls of Fury.


[1] www.spyglassentertainment.com 

[2] http://www.answers.com/topic/spyglass-entertainment

[3] http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=1505245

[4] http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/series/SpyglassEntertainment.php 

[5] http://motioncolor.blogspot.com/2011/08/memoirs-of-geisha.html 

[6] http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/spyglass-entertainment-forms-television-division-megan-wolpert-to-head-spyglass-entertainment-television-as-senior-vice-president-76555697.html

[7] http://www.globaltimes.cn/business/world/2010-12/603275.html

[8] http://variety.com/2010/film/news/mgm-restructuring-becomes-official-1118029320/

[9] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6ixkr0-qvo

[10] http://pro.imdb.com/company/co0031181/

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