January 31, 1961 |
La Grange Park, Illinois
Oren Koules (born January 31, 1961) is an American entrepreneur, film producer, and professional sports executive. Alongside Mark Burg, he formed Evolution Entertainment, which produced the Saw film series and the CBS television series, Two and a Half Men. He is the current owner of the Helena Bighorns, an ice hockey team in the North American 3 Hockey League, and is the former majority owner, CEO, and Governor of the Tampa Bay Lightning of the National Hockey League.
Early life and sports career
Koules was born and raised in La Grange Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. His grandparents are of Greek ancestry. As a child, he was sent to figure skating lessons but eventually garnered an interest in playing ice hockey. He dropped out of high school to pursue a career as a professional hockey player. From 1979 to 1982, Koules competed in the Western Hockey League. He played for six teams throughout his career, including the Medicine Hat Tigers, Portland Winter Hawks, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Spokane Flyers. He played for three professional teams in 1982: Hampton Roads Gulls, Virginia Raiders, and Saginaw Gears. His best year was in 1980 with the Spokane Flyers when he scored 28 goals with 45 assists for a total of 73 points.
He was not drafted by an NHL team, but he attended two tryout camps for his hometown Chicago Blackhawks. After his hockey career, Koules became a commodities trader at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 1983. He was one of the youngest members on the floor and eventually purchased a full membership to the Exchange. He sold his seat and left the exchange in good standing in 1991.
Upon Arriving in Hollywood, Koules was introduced to former Los Angeles Times reporter, Dale Pollock, and the two formed Peak Productions soon after. Together, they produced films like Mrs. Winterbourne and Set It Off. The early success of Peak Productions led Koules to a job as the Senior Vice President of Production at Paramount Pictures. In 1998, Koules and Mark Burg founded Evolution Entertainment. They produced the Denzel Washington-led thriller film, John Q which was released in 2002. In 2001, Koules purchased the Helena Bighorns, a Junior A hockey team, and the Helena Ice Arena.
In 2003, Koules and Mark Burg saw a seven-minute teaser of a film written by Australian screenwriters, Leigh Whannell and James Wan. Koules and Burg were "stunned" and they agreed to produce what would later become the original Saw film. They used $1 million out of pocket for funding and shot the film in 18 days. They also created a subsidiary of Evolution Entertainment called Twisted Pictures to produce the film. Saw was released in 2004 and was followed up by a sequel in 2005. By 2007, the Saw franchise hit $420 million at the box office. By 2011, the series had made roughly $870 million at the box office. Evolution Entertainment was also responsible for the production of Two and a Half Men starting in 2003.
In August 2007, Koules started his pursuit to purchase the Tampa Bay Lightning from Palace Sports and Entertainment. In February 2008, OK Hockey LLC, a group led by Koules, agreed to purchase the team. The deal offered by the 8-person ownership group (which included Len Barrie) was approved by the NHL in June 2008 for a price of $206 million. By February 2010, Jeffrey Vinik, a minority owner in the Boston Red Sox, had agreed to purchase the Lightning for $160 million. The sale was unanimously approved by the NHL Board of Governors the following month. In August 2011, Koules expressed interest in one day owning an NHL franchise again.
In June 2011, Koules sold his ownership in Evolution Entertainment, but continues to own and oversee the Saw franchise and Two and a Half Men.
Koules married talent agent, Risa Shapiro, in 1994. They had one son, Miles, in that same year. Miles Koules is currently a professional ice hockey player, playing for the Portland Winterhawks. Koules and Shapiro separated in 2005 and eventually divorced in 2007. In 2008, Koules married Shereen Arazm, a businesswoman and restaurateur. They met by happenstance on a flight from Toronto to Los Angeles where Koules was filming Saw II and where Arazm is originally from. The pair have two daughters together, Sam and Neve.
|2008||Repo! The Genetic Opera|
|2003||Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd|
|2002||Run Ronnie Run|
|2001||Diary of a Sex Addict|
|1996||Set It Off|
|2005-2006||Love, Inc.||TV series|
|2003-2011||Two and a Half Men||TV series|
|2003||Love Don't Cost a Thing|
|2000||Black and White|
- "Oren Koules". www.hockeydb.com. The Internet Hockey Database. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Lidz, Franz (21 October 2009). "Limbs Pile Up, and Money, Too". The New York Times. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Shockley, Troy (10 June 2014). "Bighorns’ Cunningham resigns coaching position". Independent Record. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Reitz, Matt (17 August 2011). "Oren Koules contemplates future NHL ownership while son participates in Research and Development Camp". NBC Sports. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Barry, John (19 August 2007). "In Lightning trio, he's Mr. Hollywood". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- "A miracle brings hockey to Helena". Independent Record. 29 August 2001. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- "2009-10 Lightning Media Guide" (PDF). SB Nation. 2009. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- Mendyke, Thomas (15 November 2002). "Bighorns making a splash in Helena". Independent Record. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Fleming, Jr., Mike (23 June 2011). "Evolution's Mark Burg Cashes Out Oren Koules, Names Mike Menchel President". Deadline.com. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Barancik, Scott (8 August 2007). "New Lightning owners take risks in careers, sports". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- "NHL must still approve sale of Lightning to producer". ESPN. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Goodall, Fred (24 June 2008). "Lightning Will Introduce New Coach Today". The Ledger. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- "Sale of Lightning to Vinik complete". ESPN. 3 March 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Sepich, Scott (9 February 2015). "Winterhawks' Miles Koules 'loving it' in Portland, hoping his pro hockey dream has Hollywood ending". The Oregonian. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Horn, John (25 June 2007). "Split of Hollywood couple unfolds like a horror film". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Nelson, Steffie (20 June 2007). "Clubland Empire". LA Weekly. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Consiglio, Alex (3 June 2013). "Top Chef Canada judge Shereen Arazm Koules always makes it home for dinner". Toronto Star. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
- Oren Koules at the Internet Movie Database
- Oren Koules's career statistics at The Internet Hockey Database