Mark Canton, Chairman and CEO of Atmosphere Entertainment MM LLC, has been a preeminent force in the entertainment industry for over two decades, helping bring more than 300 pictures to the screen in his capacity as studio executive and producer.
After holding posts as President of Worldwide Theatrical Production at Warner Bros. Pictures and Chairman of the Columbia Tristar Motion Picture Companies, Canton returned to Warner Bros. in 1997 to create his own production entity, The Canton Company. In early 2002 he joined Artists Production Group as a partner, Chairman and CEO and in December 2003, he and Mark Kimsey of Daedalus Media Partners launched a new entrepreneurial venture, Atmosphere Entertainment ' a unique, asset-rich, fully funded company that develops, produces and finances theatrical motion pictures and television programming.
His first picture as Canton Company producer was the Warner Bros. Pictures Christmas hit Jack Frost, starring Michael Keaton (Batman) and Kelly Preston (Jerry Maguire). The next film came the same 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. Pictures released the dramatic Mars thriller Red Planet, directed by Antony Hoffman, and featuring stars Val Kilmer (Heat), Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix), Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) and Oscar winner Terrance Stamp.
Canton initially joined Warner Bros. Pictures in 1980, as Vice President of Production, rising to Senior Vice President in 1983 and President of Worldwide Theatrical Production in 1985. 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.
Canton departed Warner Bros. Pictures in 1991, joining Sony Pictures Entertainment's Columbia Pictures as Chairman. By 1994, he had risen to Chairman of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Companies, with all creative, operational and management responsibility for Columbia Pictures, Triumph Films, SPE's international theatrical operations and Columbia TriStar's strategic motion picture alliances.
Soon after joining SPE in 1991, 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. He 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. More recent productions under Canton's aegis at Sony include 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 Petersen 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.
Through Atmosphere Entertainment, Canton continues to control a large number of high profile projects in various stages of development, pre-production and post production. Two films produced under The Canton Company and APG banners will be distributed in early 2004. In addition to Taking Lives, Lions Gate Films will release APG's Godsend starring Robert De Niro, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and Greg Kinnear.
Canton, who executive produced the Jack and Jill TV series for Warner Bros. Television, is presently developing Final Justice, a new dramatic series with CBS and Spelling Television. He is also active with several additional television projects.
A native of New York, Canton is a 1971 UCLA graduate (magna cum laude) and a member of UCLA's National Honor Society for American Studies. In addition to serving on the UCLA Board of Councilors and the Dean's Advisory Board for the School of Theatre, Film, and Television, he is Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the American Film Institute and Founder and Chairman Emeritus of AFI's Third Decade Council.