How Reese Witherspoon is shifting film and television

Reece Witherspoon's Pacific Standard has produced such awards season favorites as 'Gone Girl' and 'Wild.' One of the company's upcoming projects is an HBO adaptation of 'Big Little Lies,' which centers on three female friends.

John Salangsang/Invision/AP/File
Reese Witherspoon attends the 4th Annual Baby2Baby Gala in 2015.

Actress Reese Witherspoon’s production company Pacific Standard continues to develop female-centered projects, with past successes including the films “Gone Girl” and “Wild.” 

Ms. Witherspoon launched the company in 2012 with producer Bruna Papandrea, and the company continues to bring female-led films and TV shows to viewers in a Hollywood where women made up 22 percent of the leads in the 110 highest-grossing films of 2015. 

The actress recalled a meeting with executives in 2012 where she asked, “What are you developing for women?” 

“I think it was literally one studio that had a project for a female lead over 30,” Witherspoon told Variety. “And I thought to myself, ‘I’ve got to get busy.’ ”

Since then, Pacific Standard produced the 2014 box office and critical hit “Gone Girl” as well as the 2014 film “Wild,” which starred Witherspoon herself. “Gone” and “Wild” both received Oscar best actress nominations for actress Rosamund Pike and Witherspoon, respectively, as well as a best supporting actress nomination for “Wild” actress Laura Dern.

The company also backed the 2015 comedy "Hot Pursuit," starring Witherspoon and Sofia Vergara, a critical and box office misfire.

Pacific Standard is now helping bring “Big Little Lies” to HBO, based on the Liane Moriarty bestseller about three women whose children attend the same school and who learn more about each others’ lives as they become friends. It stars Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Alexander Skarsgard, and Adam Scott. 

Witherspoon's "work behind the scenes as a producer through her Pacific Standard banner … has made her a true industry force,” wrote Hollywood Reporter writer Rebecca Ford

Washington Post writer Alyssa Rosenberg highlighted the work of both Witherspoon’s Pacific Standard and producer Megan Ellison, whose Annapurna Pictures has been behind such awards season favorites as “American Hustle,” “Her,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”

“That Ellison and Witherspoon’s companies have produced so many important movies so quickly says a great deal about the opportunities the rest of Hollywood is missing,” Ms. Rosenberg wrote in 2014. “And it is a sobering reminder of how little – and how much – it takes to make a quick and visible difference in pop culture.”

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