American film executive Thomas Rothman is a true 21st century Renaissance man. He has gone from East Coast English teacher to respected attorney, Hollywood hero, businessman, and philanthropist all before the age of 60. While this may be quite the feat for most people in a lifetime, for Rothman, it is just business as usual.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Rothman attended Brown University, where he studied English and American Literature. After graduating in 1976, he went on to work as an English teacher in Connecticut before attending Columbia Law School, where he graduated in 1980. Far removed from the movie industry, he worked as a clerk for the United States Court of Appeals and then as an attorney for several high-powered firms.
It wasn’t until the mid-1980s, when Rothman was thirty-two years old that he broke into the movie industry. While practicing entertainment law, Rothman began to pursue his interest in film, helping young directors secure funding for their films. In 1986, he made the decision to quit his job and move to L.A. to take the position of Executive Vice President of Columbia Pictures, where he worked on everything from film development through production. From 1989 to 1994, Rothman worked for the Samuel Goldwyn Company as president of Worldwide Production. There he oversaw the production of a number of successful independent films.
Then, in 1994, Rothman began working at Fox Filmed Entertainment, where he would make a name for himself as a heavy weight in the film industry, serving as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, and President of Fox Searchlight. Rothman would go on to work here for 18 years, during which Fox had the best profit margin of any movie studio in the U.S. Under his leadership, Fox films were nominated for more than 150 Oscars, which included box office hits such as Titanic, Slumdog Millionaire, and Avatar.
In 2013, Rothman was named the Chairman of a joint venture between Sony Pictures and TriStar called TriStar Productions. This new company aims to produce four films per year, in addition to television programming. In addition to this new role, Rothman is currently serving on the Priceline.com Board of Directors and is set to produce Steven Spielberg’s film Robopocalypse, as soon as the script is deemed ready.
In addition to his illustrious career, Rothman has been quite prolific in the philanthropy world, with a focus on education and the arts. He served on a wide number of boards, including Brown University’s Board of Corporation, the Sundance Institute, and the American Film Institute. He is also involved in fundraising efforts for the American Jewish Committee, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and several other causes. He was nominated by President Obama to serve on the National Council of the Arts in 2013.
From English teacher to Hollywood executive, it seems that there is nothing that Tom Rothman cannot do and no challenge he will not take on. A true Renaissance man, Rothman keeps the industry on its toes, constantly delving into new adventures. No matter what is next, it is clear that Rothman will keep creating blockbusters and expanding the creative bounds of the film industry.