‘Spotlight’ Movie Co-Funded by Penn State Grad

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If you haven’t seen the mega hit Spotlight movie yet, here’s one more reason to find some time to get to the theater. 1982 Penn State graduate Tom Ortenberg was one of two independent financiers of the film and was recently the subject of a glowing IndieWire profile giving him credit for the film’s critical success.

Spotlight chronicles the Boston Globe’s investigative reporting team as it navigates breaking the story about the Catholic Church protecting Boston-area priests accused of pedophilia. Seen by some as a newer/better version of the journalism favorite All the President’s Men, Spotlight is already a frontrunner for Oscar Best Picture and has received wide critical acclaim.

Ortenberg, the CEO of Open Road Films, was one of two financial backers that helped secure the $20 million production cost to land actors/actresses Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Rachel McAdams and Liev Schreiber. It turns out, Ortenberg got his start as the President of the Penn State Film Society. From IndieWire:

Raised in Westchester, New York, Ortenberg lives in Santa Monica with his family; he has three boys from two marriages,  21, 18 and 4. He started out running the Penn State film society, and after college packed up and took his 16 mm projector with him to San Francisco. He has always relished the times he has been able to work on movies he really cared about, from Lionsgate’s “Crash” and Amy Berg’s Oscar-nominated documentary about the abuses of the Catholic Church, “Deliver Us from Evil,” to Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 9/11” at Miramax, which “we deluded ourselves might have turned an election, if it weren’t for a few errant voting machines.”

While Spotlight is certainly Ortenberg’s biggest success to date, it’s far from the only hit movie in his portfolio. Here’s another excerpt about the Penn Stater’s work in his fifth year as Open Road CEO:

At Open Road, Ortenberg has scored well with actioner “The Grey” ($51 million), Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “Nightcrawler” ($32 million domestic), comedy “The Nut Job” ($64 million domestic), and Jon Favreau sleeper “Chef” ($32 million domestic), which he pre-bought off the script even though “it was an example of a movie we don’t normally pre-buy. I didn’t know whether it was art house or commercial. I remember reading it on the plane: ‘This is great, it’s the kind of movie we don’t make anymore.’ But it could be too syrupy if Jon went in one direction, and could be dismissed; would it be audience pleasing, or would it be hard to get the audience in to get word of mouth? If it was too gritty, then we might get reviews but not please the audience. Luckily, it was good!”

You can read more about a Penn Stater doing great things over at IndieWire. And seriously, go see Spotlight.

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About Author

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]

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