Jake Eberts (born July 10, 1941) is a movie producer, executive and financier. Known for risk-taking and producing a consistently high caliber of movies including such award-winning titles as "
Chariots of Fire" (1981, uncredited ), "Gandhi" (1982), " Dances with Wolves" (1990), and the successful animated feature " Chicken Run" (2000).
Early life and career
Born John David Eberts in
Montreal, Quebec, Jake Eberts grew up in Montreal and Arvida. He attended Bishop's College Schoolin Lennoxville, Quebec and graduated from McGill University(Bachelor of Chemical Engineering 1962) and Harvard Business School(MBA 1966). Eberts' working career began as a start-up engineer for L'Air Liquidein Spain, Italy, Germany and France. He then spent three years as a Wall Streetinvestor. He moved to London, England in 1971, where he joined Oppenheimer & Co., rising to the position of managing director of the UK brokerage and investment company in 1976.
With Goldcrest Films
With no apparent prior interest in film, about 1977 he turned to film financing, and joined
David Putnamin founding Goldcrest Films, an independent film production company, for which he served as president and CEO. His first venture was the animated movie "Watership Down".
While with the company, in 1979 he made a disastrous personal investment of US$750,000 in "
Zulu Dawn", which would take him almost a decade to recover from. He obviously learned a great deal from this setback, as the output of the company was for the most part exceptional and financially rewarding, with such other films to its credit as " The Howling", "Chariots of Fire", " Local Hero", "Gandhi", "The Killing Fields" and " The Dresser". "Chariots of Fire" and "Gandhi" won back-to-back Oscars in 1981 and 1982 respectively, and in the period from 1977 to 1983 the company's films received 30 Oscar nominations and won 15. He developed a reputation as an astute and shrewd financier with impeccable taste in material. Rather than seek new talent, he chose to support established directors such as Sir Richard Attenborough, Roland Joffé, Jean-Jacques Annaud, John Boorman, many of whom have worked with him on several pictures.
He resigned from the company in 1984, but returned a year later to attempt to rescue it financially. From its early success of just a few years earlier, when it was seen as a possible saviour of the British film industry, the company had been brought to the brink of bankruptcy by the failure of three high-budget films - "Revolution", "The Mission" and "
Absolute Beginners", all in 1985-1986. [ [http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/470309/index.html screenonline: Film Studios and Industry Bodies > Goldcrest ] ]
Eberts continued on until 1987 when he resigned for the last time. The company would continued on under new ownership. Eberts detailed the disaster in his 1990 memoir, "My Indecision is Final: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of Goldcrest Films" (co-authored with
As an independent
Meanwhile, in 1985 he founded
Allied Filmmakers, an affiliate of Pathe. With this company, in 1986 he made his debut as executive producer for Annaud's "The Name of the Rose", based on the best-selling novel by Umberto Eco. He since produced or executive produced John Boorman's "Hope and Glory" (1987), his second pair of back-to-back Oscar winners " Driving Miss Daisy" (1989) and "Dances With Wolves" (1990), Robert Redford's " A River Runs Through It" (1992) and Tim Burton's adaptation of Roald Dahl's "James and the Giant Peach" (1995). During this period Eberts was also responsible as executive for the expensive flop, " The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1988), which thankfully went on to some popular success in home videocassetteand DVDrentals. [ [http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=918 The Adventures of Baron Munchausen - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes - The New York Times ] ]
Eberts moved to Paris in about 1991.
"Dances with Wolves" was an early picture of Eberts to feature a native American theme. Later productions included (as producer or executive producer),
Bruce Beresford's " Black Robe" (1991), " The Education of Little Tree" (1997), and Richard Attenborough's " Grey Owl" (1998). The latter three pictures were all produced in Canada.
He also served as a co-executive producer (with
Jeffrey Katzenberg) of "Chicken Run" (2000).
National Geographic Feature Films
In 2002, Eberts, became chairman of
National GeographicFeature Films (NGFF) and executive produced such titles as the live action animal feature "Two Brothers" by Jean-Jacques Annaud. He has also branched out into documentaries including "Prisoner of Paradise", which was nominated for Best Picture in the feature documentary category at the 2003 Academy Awards, and "America's Heart and Soul" (2004). Under his direction, NGFF had an enormous success in 2005 by distributing the sleeper documentary "March of the Penguins" (original French title, "La Marche de l'empereur").
Honours and other achievements
In 1992 Eberts became an Officer of the
Order of Canada. He was also awarded honorary doctorates by McGill University in 1998 and by Bishop's Universityin 1999. He serves on the Board of the Sundance Instituteand the Sundance Channel. He is also Co-Founder and CEO of MPI International, which provides high-speed, two-way video transmission capabilities to telcos, cable companies, hotels, hospitals, and schools.
By 2005, Eberts had been associated with films garnering 66 Oscar nominations, including nine for Best Picture. In 2006, "March of the Penguins" won the Oscar for Best Documentary.
* [http://www.sbs.ox.ac.uk/html/faculty_skoll_forum_2005_bios_JakeEberts.asp Recent Biography]
* [http://www.hollywood.com/celebs/detail/id/190154 Hollywood.com Biography]
*imdb name|id=0248180|name=Jake Eberts
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