Peter Rice (executive)
Peter Rice in 2009
|Born||1967 (age 47-48)
|Occupation||Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Fox Networks Group, Inc since March 2009|
Peter Rice (born 1967) was born in the United Kingdom, graduated from the University of Nottingham in 1989, and began his career with Fox Filmed Entertainment in 1985 as an intern in the U.S. distribution and marketing office. Rice rose through the ranks within News Corporation, the entertainment conglomerate overseen by Rupert Murdoch. Rice was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the Fox Networks Group in August 2012. In his role, he supervises all creative and business aspects of the Fox Networks Group worldwide. Rice also oversees Fox Sports Enterprises, which manages Fox’s interests in professional sports franchises, venues and leading statistical information provider STATS, LLC.
Prior to his most recent appointment, Rice served for two years as Chairman, Entertainment for Fox Networks Group. He also previously served as Chairman, Entertainment for Fox Broadcasting Company – helping to drive the network to three seasons as No. 1 and extending FOX’s streak to eight seasons as the top-rated broadcaster.
Before transitioning to the television arena, Rice served as President, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Fox Atomic. He began his tenure at Fox Searchlight Pictures in 2000, during which time he released some of the most critically acclaimed films of the past decade and some of the highest-grossing films in Fox Searchlight’s history. While at the helm of the company, Rice generated 51 Academy Award and 42 Golden Globe Award nominations, including a record of 12 nominations and eight wins at the 81st Annual Academy Awards.
Prior to heading up Fox Searchlight Pictures, Rice was Executive Vice President, Production for Twentieth Century Fox. Rice began his career as a marketing intern at Twentieth Century Fox. Subsequently, he held posts as Director of Acquisitions, Vice President of Production and Senior Vice President.
Rice was born in 1967 and raised in Britain. He earned a degree from the University of Nottingham in 1989. Rice's father was a business associate of Rupert Murdoch, who had acquired half of the film studio Twentieth Century Fox in 1985. The family connection allowed Rice to land an internship that same year with the head of U.S. distribution and marketing for Fox Filmed Entertainment Tom Sherak. The early internship opportunity fueled rumors that Rice was Murdoch's chosen heir to the Fox studio throne.
Career at Twentieth Century Fox
The Los Angeles Business Wire reported that Rice rose from his internship in 1985 through the company ranks until he became the Senior Vice President of Production for Twentieth Century Fox. Rice was named the director of acquisitions at Fox in October 1994. Then, he became a director of production and was further promoted to vice president and finally senior vice president for Twentieth Century Fox. Rice served as a creative executive on films such as, Independence Day (1996 film) and Alien Resurrection. The chairman and chief executive officer of Fox Filmed Entertainment Bill Mechanic described Rice's career at Twentieth Century Fox by commenting: "Peter Rice began his career at Fox and made his mark by finding and working with exciting new directors on innovative projects." 
According to the Business Wire, at Fox, Rice had cultivated relationships with some of the most talented young filmmakers of the time, including Danny Boyle, Bryan Singer, Baz Luhrmann, Alex Proyas and the Hughes Brothers. Rice worked as a creative executive on director Danny Boyle's A Life Less Ordinary and oversaw the director's The Beach. Rice also worked with director Baz Luhrmann in the development and production of his films, the musical Moulin Rouge and modern-day adaptation William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Rice developed From Hell, a film vehicle chronicling the investigation of the Jack the Ripper murders for the Hughes Brothers to direct. Rice also functioned as the supervising creative executive on X-Men (film), the superhero film directed by Bryan Singer.
Career at Fox Searchlight
Fox Searchlight was launched in 1994 by Tom Rothman and was intended to be an art-film division for Fox that produced modestly budgeted movies that were received well by critics. Searchlight became a film-maker oriented company that focused on distinctive films directed by world-class international auteurs and exciting newcomers. Rice became the president of production for Fox Searchlight in January 2000. When Rice came on board, Searchlight's best-received title was Boys Don't Cry. The film had centered on a real-life transgender teenager who was slain in Nebraska and featured a performance from Hilary Swank that received a Best Actress Academy Award. Besides producing its own titles, Searchlight focused on acquiring independent films made by others and used its access to the Twentieth Century Fox label to distribute them.
According to Anne Thompson of the New York Magazine, Rice instituted some guidelines for the Fox Searchlight division to follow. Rice wished to release no more than twelve movies a year - producing half of them and acquiring the rest. He also set a budget ceiling at 15 million dollars. The low budgets were made possible because the edgy scripts that the division would purchase attracted stars willing to take a pay cut. Before moving forward with production of any film, Rice wanted a movie to have two defined market niches: one if the film is executed perfectly and another if it is not. In order to maximize every film's potential, the target audiences were calibrated and resources were allocated accordingly. These guidelines allowed for Fox Searchlight to reach success theatrically on a number of its titles. Rice also relied on his sales team, marketing chief Nancy Utley and distribution chief Stephen Gilula, to stick to the rules. Utley and Gilula inventively fine-tuned the sales approach for each film release in order to reach a film's target audience and to make a profit. Rice, Gilula, and Utley had radically different tastes, but all three needed to agree on buying or green-lighting a project. The collaboration resulted in Fox Searchlight releasing films from many different genres.
The New York Magazine profile on Rice goes on to explain that the first film that Rice green-lighted for studio division was 2001's Kingdom Come (2001 film). The film was a dysfunctional-family comedy starring Whoopi Goldberg and LL Cool J and made 23 million dollars at the box office and on subsequent rentals and sales. Kingdom Come was profitable for the film division as its budget was only seven million dollars. The next year, with a modest staff of 43, Searchlight released seven films the collectively grossed more than 135 million dollars: One Hour Photo, Kissing Jessica Stein, Brown Sugar, Super Troopers, The Banger Sisters, The Good Girl, and Antwone Fisher. One Hour Photo was one of the first examples of a big-name star, Robin Williams, becoming attached to a Fox Searchlight feature. The Banger Sisters starred Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon on a budget of 10 million dollars. Rice limited the producer Mark Johnson to the set budget, and because of the price tag, the film showed a profit.
Fox Searchlight continued its success into 2003 with Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, which opened strong against the high-profile sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and grossed more than 20 million dollars in ten days at the box office. The apocalyptic thriller's success was shared with the coming-of-age British soccer movie Bend It Like Beckham. Bend It Like Beckham ended its theatrical run with more than 30 million dollars at the United States box office on a budget of five million. In 2004, Rice and Searchlight released three successful films: Napoleon Dynamite, Sideways, and Garden State. Rice had purchased Napoleon Dynamite after seeing it at the Sundance Film Festival for 14 million dollars. Because of word-of-mouth buzz, the teen-oriented release earned 45 million dollars at the box office.
Throughout the rest of his time at Fox Searchlight, Rice and his team turned low-budget films such as Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, and Slumdog Millionaire into mainstream commercial and critical successes. Searchlight won the battle against Miramax for the rights to Little Miss Sunshine after the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. The film division agreed to purchase the film for 10 million dollars and 10 percent of the film's grosses. Peter Knegt at indieWIRE reported that Little Miss Sunshine went on to gross almost 60 million dollars at the box office. Juno and Slumdog Millionaire proved to be even more successful for Rice and Searchlight with grosses of more than 140 million dollars each.
Career at Fox Atomic
Beginning in 2006, Rice oversaw a new Fox film division - Fox Atomic. Fox Atomic was officially formed in January 2007 around former chief operating officer John Hegeman and label head Debbie Liebling. According to Edward Wyatt with the New York Times, the new division was intended to target a younger audience by producing comedies and thrillers. Fox had positioned Atomic as a marketing venture with a purpose of attracting audiences that were not as influenced by mainstream television advertising. Rice's success at Fox Searchlight made him the ideal candidate to head such a film division. After a string of under-performing releases, including Turistas, 28 Weeks Later, The Rocker, The Comebacks, and Miss March, Fox Atomic surrendered its marketing operations in January 2008 and was folded back into Fox's other film divisions.
Career at Fox Television Network
In March 2009, Rice left his position as film chief at Fox Searchlight and was put in charge of the Fox Television network. The former head of the Fox network, Peter Liguori stepped down. News Corporation Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rupert Murdoch announced the restructuring of the Los Angeles-based Fox business on March 12, 2009. The changes resulted in Rice being named the chairman of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting. Rice was then required to report to chairman of the Fox Networks Group Tony Vinciquerra, who oversaw the cable networks and the business aspects of Fox Broadcasting, Fox International Channels and Fox Broadcasting programming. Rice's departure from Fox Searchlight left Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula to jointly run the business under Jim Gianopulos and Tom Rothman, the co-chairmen of Fox Filmed Entertainment.
Rice's primary goal at Fox Broadcasting initially was to find a project to remove some of the burden of the network's ratings from American Idol. In its eighth season, American Idol was drawing an audience forty percent larger than the next most popular series, ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Although one of Fox's biggest bets at ratings, Glee, originated under Rice's predecessor Peter Liguori, the show gave Rice an opportunity to demonstrate his marketing abilities before the series premiered on May 19, 2009. The relationship between Rice and the president of entertainment for Fox Broadcasting, Kevin Reilly, was essential for success at the network during Rice's first year in television. Reilly was brought to Fox by Peter Liguori after he was ousted from NBC's prime-time line up. After Liguori left Fox, Reilly became Rice's underling.
In 2010, Rice was put in charge of programming the FX cable channel in addition to Fox Broadcasting. The moves were made in an attempt to streamline the News Corporation.
Career at Fox Networks Group
In August 2012, Peter Rice was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the Fox Networks Group. In his role, he supervises all aspects of Fox Television Group (which includes Fox Broadcasting Company and 20th Century Fox Television), FX Networks and Fox Sports Media Group (which encompasses the company’s national sports channels and regional sports networks). He is also responsible for multiple National Geographic Channel brands and Fox International Channels (FIC).
- "Encyclopedia of World Biography", President of Fox Searchlight and Fox Atomic Peter Rice, Advameg, Inc., 2010. Retrieved on 2010-11-07.
- Thompson, Anne. "Sly Fox", New York Magazine, New York Media LLC, 2003-07-21. Retrieved on 2010-11-07.
- "Peter Rice Named President of Production, Fox Searchlight Pictures", Business Wire, 2000-01-19. Retrieved on 2010-11-23.
- "Bend It Like Beckham", The Numbers, 1997–2010 Retrieved on 2010-11-23.
- Knegt, Peter. "B.O. of the '00s: The Top Grossing Independent Films of the 2000s", indieWIRE, 2009-12-30. Retrieved on 2010-11-25.
- Fleming, Michael. "Fox Folding Atomic Label", Variety, 2009-04-19. Retrieved on 2010-11-23.
- Wyatt, Edward. "Fox's Low-Key New Boss Is Looking Beyond 'Idol'", New York Times, 2009-04-07. Retrieved on 2010-11-07.
- Chmielewski, Dawn. Eller, Claudia. "Peter Rice to head Fox network", Los Angeles Times, 2009-03-12. Retrieved on 2010-11-07.
- Seidman, Robert. "Changes at FOX Peter Ligouri out, Peter Rice In", TV by the Numbers, 2009-03-12. Retrieved on 2010-11-07.