Fifth Season Sets Janice Lee And Kara Duncan For VP Roles – Deadline
EXCLUSIVE: Former Netflix exec Janice Lee has joined Fifth Studio as Vice President, Film Development and Production, with longtime team member Kara Duncan being promoted to the same role. The news comes as the global film and TV studio, formerly known as Endeavor Content, kicks off the year with four films heading to Sundance and another two soon heading to theaters.
As members of the team led by EVP, Film Development and Production, Alexis Garcia, Lee and Duncan will be responsible for expanding the studio’s slate of indie and big- budget features, made with top-tier talent for distribution on streaming platforms and in theaters. The pair will report to SVPs, Film Development and Production, Dan Guando and Negeen Yazdi.
After seeing major success at Sundance 2022 with Cha Cha Real Smooth, the Cooper Raiff Audience Award winner that went to Apple in the largest sale of the festival, Fifth Season is poised to return to Utah with two narrative film premieres and two documentary premieres in U.S. Competition. Its narrative titles are the psychological thriller Eileen, starring Thomasin McKenzie and Anne Hathaway, and the Dublin-centered musical Flora and Son, topped by Eve Hewson and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Festival alum John Carney (Sing Street) wrote and directed the latter title, with William Oldroyd helming the former, based on the Otessa Moshfegh bestseller, from his and Luke Goebel’s script.
Fifth Season’s first Sundance-bound documentary, directed by Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn, is Going Varsity in Mariachi, examining the South Texas leader in world high school mariachi. The other, directed by Ben Braun and Chiaki Yanagimoto, is Aum: The Cult at the End of the World, which chronicles the events around the 1996 deadly attack on the Tokyo subway system by a doomsday cult.
The studio’s next films up for theatrical release are the multi-generational romantic comedy Maybe I Do, marking the feature directorial debut of Michael Jacobs, and the ensemble comedy 80 for Brady, helmed by Kyle Marvin. The former title — starring Diane Keaton, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, William H. Macy, Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey — will be released by Vertical Entertainment on January 27. Fifth Season produced the latter, based on a true story, with Paramount Pictures. It stars Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Rita Moreno, Sally Field and Tom Brady and will bow in theaters nationwide on February 3.
In announcing the latest developments within Fifth Season’s executive ranks, SVPs, Film Development and Production, Guando and Yazdi, told Deadline: “As we expand the types of stories we want to tell, films we want to make and the creators we want to collaborate with, Janice and Kara’s passions for developing films of all kinds for global audiences are a great addition to the team.”
Lee most recently served as a creative executive for Netflix’s Original Independent Film Division. While at the streamer, she oversaw a wide slate of films for a global audience spanning 190 countries around the world, including the recently released Lili Reinhart rom-com Look Both Ways, the horror No One Gets Out Alive from Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish’s The Imaginarium, Antonio Campos’ dark drama The Devil All the Time, the YA franchise The Kissing Booth, and the upcoming YA sci-fi film Uglies, based on the Scott Westerfeld novel, with McG directing and starring Joey King.
Lee worked, prior to Netflix, as an executive at eOne/Sierra-Affinity, there supporting the films Atomic Blonde and How It Ends. She started her career in the ICM mailroom before working at Imagine, where she helped develop Genius: Einstein for National Geographic.
Duncan joined the then-named Endeavor Content as a creative executive in 2018, most recently serving there as Director, Film Development & Production. She currently has projects in development with filmmakers including Brett Haley, Rob Savage, Ed Berger, Philip Barantini, Oliver Hermanus, Elizabeth Chomko, Josephine Decker, Damon Thomas, Rashaad Ernesto Green, Luke Snellin and Joe Penna, and began her career as an assistant at WME after graduating from USC.
Recent films from Fifth Season include Maggie Gyllenhaal’s multi-Academy Award nominated The Lost Daughter on Netflix, as well as the aforementioned Cha Cha Real Smooth on Apple TV+ and horror My Best Friend’s Exorcism on Amazon. The studio’s credits on the TV side include Severance, See and Truth Be Told for Apple TV+, Wolf Like Me for Peacock, Life & Beth, Nine Perfect Strangers and McCartney 3, 2, 1 for Hulu, Tokyo Vice for HBO Max, and Scenes from a Marriage for HBO.
Also coming up for Fifth Season on the feature side is the Bill Holderman-directed Book Club 2: The Next Chapter, starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen, which is set for release by Focus Features on May 12.
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