Mark Canton has been a preeminent force in the entertainment industry helping to bring hundreds of pictures to the screen in his capacity as a senior studio executive and producer. Canton controls a large number of high profile projects in various stages of development, pre-production, production and post-production.
In 2016 he produced The Comedian with his Cinelou Films partner Courtney Solomon and with Linson Films. The Comedian is a dark comedy directed by Taylor Hackford, starring Robert DeNiro, Leslie Mann, Danny Devito, and Harvey Keitel. The screenplay is by Art Linson, Jeffrey Ross, and Richard LaGravenese (Academy Award winning writer of The Fisher King), and focuses on the life of an aging insult comic.
In 2014 his film 300: Rise of an Empire, the companion to the mega-hit, 300, opened to new box office records around the world. It was written by Zack Snyder and Kurt Johnstad and directed by Noam Murro and is based on Frank Miller’s latest graphic novel. In December 2014, The Pyramid, a horror film set against the intersection of ancient Egyptology and modern archeology, was directed by Gregory Levasseur.
More recently, Canton produced Cake, a dark comedy written by Patrick Tobin, directed by Daniel Barnz and starring Jennifer Aniston as an acerbic woman who becomes fascinated by the suicide of a person in her chronic pain group. Cake was released late last year to critical and audience acclaim. Aniston’s performance garnered nominations for major awards including a Golden Globe®. Cake was the first project made under a new venture between Cinelou Films and China’s Shenghua Entertainment. Courtney Solomon, Cinelou’s CEO and Co-Chairman, produced the film with Canton.
In September 2016, Cinelou released its second film, Mr. Church, an emotional drama starring Eddie Murphy and directed by Bruce Beresford. It completed filming in Los Angeles in January 2015, with Lee Nelson and David Buelow producing alongside Canton and Solomon.
Other 2016/2017 motion pictures produced by Canton include:
- Burn Your Maps written and directed by Jordan Roberts (Big Hero Six) played to critical acclaim at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The film stars Vera Farmiga, Marton Csokas, Virginia Madson, Jacob Tremblay and Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi), and focuses on an 8-year-old American boy (Tremblay) who declares to his parents that he is actually a Mongolian goat herder born in the wrong place. When he meets a similarly displaced Indian filmmaker, they journey east, seeking what they believe to be their true place in the world.
- The Yellow Birds, written by David Lowery and directed by Alexandre Moors (Blue Caprice, Clash of Gods). Based on the book by Kevin Powers, it stars Jennifer Aniston, Alden Ehrenreich (Blue Jasmine, Hail Caesar, Beautiful Creatures), Tye Sheridan (X-Men) and Jack Huston (American Hustle, The Longest Ride) in the drama set against the Iraq war.
- Phoenix Lights, directed by Justin Barber is a mystery about three teens that go missing following the appearance of mysterious lights in the skies above Phoenix, AZ. TS Nowlin (Maze Runner) wrote the screenplay.
Films in advanced stages of development to be produced by Canton are:
- Robotech with James Wan (Fast 7, The Conjuring) directing off a script by Michael Gordon (300) for Sony Pictures Entertainment. Robotech is the classic anime that started in the 1980s and has fervent fans all over the world.
- Emperor which follows the adventures and intrigues of Gaius Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus as they mature from boys into young men in the powerful, sexy and dangerous world of ancient Rome. The original script is by Oscar® nominee William Broyles Jr. and Stephen Harrigan based on Conn Iggulden’s historical fiction novel. Nigel Sinclair, Guy East, Gianni Nunnari and Matt Jackson are producing alongside Canton.
- Den of Thieves, a crime thriller about a gang of outlaws who try to rob the Federal Reserve in Los Angeles and a gang of renegade cops who try to stop them. It is written and will be directed by Christian Gudegast with Gerard Butler to star.
In the television arena, Canton is Executive Producer on Power, which is presently airing its ratings-winning third season, has begun production in New York City on its fourth outing. The series was developed with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and CBS Studios for the Starz Network, with Courtney Kemp-Agboh (The Good Wife) as the writer/showrunner. Additionally, Canton has entered into a first look arrangement with Starz for the development and production of cutting edge, high-concept original programming for the network.
Also in television, Canton and CBS Studios have set up Friday the 13th at The CW. This series reimagines the iconic Jason and the creepy town of Crystal Lake.
Amongst his most notable films are 300, 300: Rise of an Empire, The Spiderwick Chronicles and Immortals. 300, based on the Frank Miller graphic novel and directed by Zack Snyder, opened to record-setting box office numbers, having grossed more than $460 million worldwide and is the highest-grossing March release in the history of the motion picture business. The 300 DVD has set sales records around the world. The Spiderwick Chronicles, based on the best-selling children books by Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black with Mark Waters (Mean Girls) directing, was the highest-grossing family film of early 2008. Immortals, an epic mythological tale set in war torn ancient Greece, was released on 11/11/11 and has since amassed a worldwide gross of almost $250 million.
He had two movies released in 2010: romantic drama Letters to Juliet, directed by the late Gary Winick on location in Verona and Tuscany, Italy, and New York City, and Piranha 3D directed by Alexandre Aja, which Canton describes as “Jaws for a new generation.” Its sequel was Piranha 3DD.
Canton initially joined Warner Bros. as Vice President of Production, rising to Senior Vice President and President of Worldwide Theatrical Production. During his tenure at the studio, Canton was instrumental in creating the notable Batman, Lethal Weapon and National Lampoon’s Vacation film franchises. His creative influence brought some of today’s most powerful filmmakers to the fore and some of the studio’s most successful films to the screen. The latter included Tim Burton’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Batman, Beetlejuice, the Academy award-winning Driving Miss Daisy and Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. Canton also put into production such popular hits as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Purple Rain, Above the Law, The Witches of Eastwick, The Mission, and Presumed Innocent, among others.
He departed Warner Bros. to join Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Columbia Pictures as Chairman. In the ensuing years he rose to Chairman of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Companies, with all creative, operational and management responsibility for Columbia Pictures, Triumph Films, Sony Pictures Classics, SPE’s international theatrical operations, and Columbia TriStar’s strategic motion picture alliances.
Soon after joining SPE, Canton revitalized motion picture production operations, restructured the marketing and distribution companies and released a wide range of critically acclaimed action and comedy hits, among them: A Few Good Men, Groundhog Day, In the Line of Fire, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Bad Boys, The Net, The Professional, The Fifth Element, and Jumanji. Canton also championed a distinctive slate of dramas and romantic comedies, such as the Oscar-winning Sense and Sensibility, Legends of the Fall, The Mirror Has Two Faces, A League of Their Own, Fly Away Home, Sleepless in Seattle, Poetic Justice, The Age of Innocence, Little Women, The Remains of the Day and The People vs. Larry Flynt.
Also produced under Canton’s aegis at Sony were the Academy Award winning As Good As It Gets, starring Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt; Oscar-winner Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr.; Men in Black, starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones; the Julia Roberts romantic comedy My Best Friend’s Wedding; the thriller Anaconda; and the Wolfgang Peterson film Air Force One starring Harrison Ford. In addition Canton initiated I Know What You Did Last Summer, Starship Troopers, Zorro, Godzilla, and Stepmom, starring Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon.
Following Sony, Canton returned to Warner Bros. to create his own production entity, The Canton Company. His first picture was the Warner Bros. Christmas classic Jack Frost, starring Michael Keaton (Batman) and Kelly Preston (Jerry Maguire). The next film came the following year, as Canton produced the much anticipated remake of the British cult classic Get Carter, directed by Stephen Kay (Last Time I Committed Suicide) starring academy award winners Sylvester Stallone (Rocky) and Michael Caine (Cider
House Rules) alongside Rachel Leigh Cook (She’s All That) and Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow). Shortly thereafter, Warner Bros released the dramatic Mars thriller Red Planet directed by Antony Hoffman, and starring Val Kilmer (Heat), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix), Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) and Oscar winner Terrance Stamp.
In early 2002 he joined Artists Production Group as a partner, Chairman and CEO and in December 2003, he launched Atmosphere Entertainment MM — an entrepreneurial venture to develop, produce and finance theatrical motion pictures and television programming.
Two films produced under The Canton Company and Artists Production Group banners — Taking Lives, starring Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke, Kiefer Sutherland and Oliver Martinez, and Godsend starring Robert De Niro, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Greg Kinnear, were released in early 2004.
Canton executive produced the Jack and Jill TV series for Warner Bros. Television, and is presently developing new television projects at HBO, ABC, CBS, TNT and Lifetime.
A native of New York, Canton is a UCLA graduate (magna cum laude) and a member of UCLA’s National Honor Society for American Studies. He delivered the 2011 commencement address at UCLA’s School of History. In addition to serving on the UCLA Board of Councilors and the Deans Advisory Board for the School of Theatre, Film, and Television, Canton was Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Film Institute and Founder and is Chairman Emeritus of AFI’s Third Decade Council. In recent years he has co-chaired the prestigious Ischia Global Film & Music Festival and the Los Angeles, Italia Film Festival.