Eight years after forming Section Eight to make films for Warner Bros. as cheaply as possible in exchange for minimal creative interference, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh have closed the door on Section Eight for good. Their last picture under the banner will probably be the sequel Ocean's Thirteen, to be released next summer.
Vanity deals in Hollywood used to be handed out by Hollywood to everyone with a SAG card it seemed. However, once the belt-tightening of spiraling production costs and sagging box office receipts began to hit in the mid-90s, those deals evaporated faster than swag bags around Lindsay Lohan. High profile deals have been hitting skids lately, with Tom Cruise's Cruise/Wagner Productions being let go by Paramount, and Section 8 shuttering this month. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston's own Plan B Entertainment seems to be surviving, after Aniston left the company and Pitt (the more bankable of the two) signed a new deal with Paramount, no surprise since they formed the company with Brad Grey, the current president of the studio.
Ironically, for a company that set out to make films as cheaply as possible in exchange for minimal creative interference, their only real financial successes were the very expensive (and highly profitable) Oceans's Eleven series, which has spawned two sequels and grossed over $800 million worldwide. Although they enjoyed plenty of critical success with Syriana and Good Night and Good Luck, they did not turn large profits for the studios, and failed to break into television despite repeated attempts.
Clooney and Soderbergh are both extremely talented, with Clooney being just as versatile behind the camera (see his own Confessions of a Dangerous Mind), and will have no problem continuing being successful. However, this was one of the most unique combinations of film talent in recent years, and I for one would have liked to see them continuing to put out the types movies that they were slowly but surely becoming known for; smart films that made you think well after you'd left the theater.
Clooney and Soderbergh: The Demise of a Vanity Shingle?