Meet the Midas of Tinseltown: Thomas Edgar Rothman. Former Fox figurehead and current captain of TriStar Productions, Rothman is one of the Hollywood’s savviest cinema prophets, a man under whose watch were produced such films as Titanic, The Devil Wears Prada, Minority Report, Cast Away and more. “I’ve loved movies my whole life,” says Rothman. “I happen to be one of those very fortunate people whose vocation and avocation are the same.”
In 1976, Rothman graduated from Brown University with a string of commendations: Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa, and an All New England selection for Division 1 Lacrosse, a ferocious sport only paralleled by Los Angeles’ politics. He went to work as a varsity soccer coach and English teacher at the all-boys Salisbury School, where his pupils presumably started winning Pulitzer prizes soon after.
After graduating from Columbia Law School as a James Kent Scholar, the highest academic honor bestowed by the school, Rothman landed a job as a law clerk in 1981. Six years later, when most people were still wishing for promotions, he was Vice President of Columbia Pictures.
His rise was meteoric: In 1986, Rothman, then a 32-year-old partner at Frankfurt, Garbus, Klein & Selz in New York City, moved under the wing of Columbia Pictures as a movie producer. For his next job, Rothman oversaw global production of the Samuel Goldwyn Company. He then established the award-winning Fox Searchlight specialty production company, which led him to Fox proper.
After little more than a decade following his first major film production, Thomas Rothman had climbed the ladder to the top executive position at Fox Filmed Entertainment. During his reign, Fox Filmed Entertainment was volunteered for over 150 Academy Awards, won three Best Picture Oscars, and reaped over $30 billion from box office hits, not to mention working with major actors like Meryl Streep.
To what did Rothman credit his success? His education at Columbia Law University, which taught him to solve problems with equal parts creativity and analysis. Problems “tend to be tricky, because if they had black-and-white solutions, there are 3,000 very competent people who work here who would have solved it before it comes to you,” he says.
After a falling out with Fox media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Rothman stepped down from his CEO position. Murdoch still credited Rothman for “the critical role he has played in building our film studio.”
Spying a big fish off the hook, Sony Pictures immediately reeled in Rothman as the guiding compass for its next venture: the re-launch of TriStar Production. “Throughout my entire career, I’ve always tried to zig when other people zagged,” says Rothman, “and that’s what I’m going to do here.”
TriStar studios plans to produce four movies annually. Rothman has big plans for both cinema and screen. “Television right now is fertile … I believe that, ultimately, is ultimately going to be a great thing for the movie audience because it does show that you can aim high with audiences.”. And he’s definitely teamed up with some of the biggest, like Ang Lee and his project with Maggie Smith and the BBC.