ANALYSIS: The appointment of Michael De Luca to share production president duties with Hannah Minghella at Sony Pictures has taken the town by surprise. Insiders on the lot see an improved structure that could position the studio to up the level of quality as it follow through on its mandate to take big swings for global hits. The way the new structure will work is, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group chairman Amy Pascal and Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad will focus on the studio as a whole, including administrative endeavors, and Minghella and De Luca will concentrate on building the film slates.
Related: Sony Taps Michael De Luca As Columbia Production President
Many in town have expressed surprise that De Luca would make such a move at this moment, and not just because he’s most identified with smart and edgy filmmaker-driven films and not the tentpoles that increasingly account for studio slates. They are surprised that, after transitioning from a fabled run as wunderkind production chief at New Line (and a stint at DreamWorks) to become producer, De Luca has built enviable momentum: hits include Sony’s Oscar hopeful Captain Phillips, The Social Network and Moneyball, and De Luca is in the middle of Universal/Focus’s adaptation of the EL James publishing sensation Fifty Shades Of Grey. There are dozens of other promising projects percolating. “There is no way a guy with that hot a hand is going to take that job and probably a pay cut to report to Belgrad unless there is some eventual succession plan,” barked one rival exec.
Related: Q&A With ‘Social Network’s Mike De Luca
Plenty of turbulence has occurred at Sony these past few months leading up to the recent investor meeting, but insiders tell me this structure is not viewed as a short-term solution, and they say no other shoes will be dropping. They say this move will strengthen the studio in several ways. Most important is De Luca’s value as an executive; I have gotten to know him very well, as we spent over a year working on a book about his professional and personal coming-of-age years at New Line. We shelved the project at Mike’s request, so I’m not uncomfortable writing about him here. But what I observed that the above exec is unaware of is just how much De Luca loved being an executive. Read More »
Talk about a bolt from the blue. The town was surprised today when Matt Tolmach exited from co-president of production at Sony Pictures Entertainment to a producing deal that starts with Tolmach joining the Spider-Man franchise he has managed from day one as an executive. Now, any time a studio production president segues into a producing deal and claims it was his choice, it gets my spider sense tingling. Because most times, it takes a firing, or the Jaws of Life, to pry occupants from these powerful studio president jobs. But Tolmach and his longtime co-president partner Doug Belgrad say that SPE’s newest producer actually did make the move voluntarily and that he’s had the itch to do it for some time. He steps into a three-year first look deal and will have to soon transition out of the Thalberg Building (no producers) and take office space elsewhere on the lot. He hasn’t yet thought of a company name to put on the door. All this happens around Thanksgiving, when Hannah Minghella moves from her post at Sony Pictures Animation to become president of production. And Tolmach joins producers Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad in gearing up for a December 6 production start on the Marc Webb-directed 3D Spider-Man reboot with newcomer Andrew Garfield in the title role. Belgrad becomes sole Columbia Pictures president under SPE chairman/CEO Michael Lynton and co-chairman Amy Pascal.
“You’re right, these jobs are great and it’s hard for people to imagine anyone leaving voluntarily,” Tolmach told me. “We’ve been saying to each other all morning, ‘nobody does this.’ But I like that. Amy, Michael, Doug and I have had this miraculous run, but the people who really know me heard this today, called and said, ‘I get it.’ As great as these jobs are, what happens in success is you move further away from the day-to-day meat of the movies. There are meetings all day long, on millions of topics, and I’ve found myself wanting to do less of that. I’d rather be engaged in one or two movies than to be in a notes meeting, get to page 65 of the script and tell everybody, ‘I have to go to another meeting.’” Read More »
BREAKING: Sony Pictures Entertainment has just announced this:
LONGTIME COLUMBIA PICTURES CHIEFS MATT TOLMACH AND DOUG BELGRAD TRANSITION INTO NEW ROLES
Tolmach Launches New Production Company and Joins Spider-Man Team As Belgrad Promoted to Sole President of Columbia Pictures
– Hannah Minghella Named President of Production for Historic Banner–
… Read More »
Yes, this is a reimagining of the Arnold Schwarzenegger blockbuster. Sony announced today that Len Wiseman is in final negotiations to direct Total Recall. (Funny how, two days ago, Wiseman’s agency ICM denied anything substantive was going on…) Doug Belgrad and Matt Tolmach, the presidents of Columbia Pictures, said the film will … Read More »