He’s only officially been a Sony exec for less than a week, but Michael De Luca‘s dance card is quickly filling up. Sony Pictures today acquired the rights to World War Z author Max Brooks‘ soon-to-be published graphic novel …
In New Michael De Luca Deal, Sony Acquires Rights To ‘Harlem Hellfighters’ From ‘World War Z’ Author Max Brooks
Worry not Fifty Shades Of Grey fans: The movie of the book aims to give you what you want. “We’re very conscious of not making anything gratuitous or exploitive while being faithful to the stories of the book and to the fans of the book,” said producer Michael De Luca this morning at the Sundance Film Festival. “We’re going to give them what they expect, which is an intense and erotic love story,” he added. “Obviously the film can’t be as explicit as the book,” De Luca noted. “A picture is worth a 1000 words. So to be erotic onscreen means I think an image is going to have way more power than reading the words on a page.”
The soon to be president of Production for Columbia Pictures (he officially takes the reins March 1) was in Park City for the second annual PGA Breakfast. In a free-ranging discussion with Producers Guild national executive director Van Van Patten, De Luca mainly discussed his career history. But it was on Fifty Shades that things got steamy.
“Not to sound corny, but it is, at its heart, a young love story. I think those things always work,” he said of the blockbuster trilogy of books. “No matter what you think about the book, those things are in that story and they are very cinematic. I think people love a good love story and the these two characters endeared themselves to 90 million readers so it’s hard to say that it didn’t connect on a deeper level than just its more sensationalist aspects, but it was the love story that did it for me.”
In Michael De Luca’s First Deal, Sony Pictures Acquires David Ignatius Novel ‘The Director’ For Paul Greengrass And Scott Rudin
BREAKING: Well, looks like former New Line production president Michael De Luca isn’t taking long to make that transition to the executive suites. I’m told that his first deal at Sony Pictures as production president is The Director, a novel by David Ignatius that reteams De Luca with his Captain Phillips producer Scott Rudin and director Paul Greengrass. De Luca, Rudin and Dana Brunetti produced Captain Phillips.
Greengrass will adapt the novel — will be published by W.W. Norton in June — and direct the film. This comes as Captain Phillips became a global hit and got four Golden Globe nominations. In The Director, Graham Weber has been director of the CIA for less than a week when a Swiss kid in a dirty T-shirt walks into the American consulate in Hamburg and says the agency has been hacked, and he has a list of agents’ names to prove it. This is the moment a CIA director most dreads.
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.
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.
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.
Culver City, Calif. (December 6, 2013) – Michael De Luca is joining Sony Pictures Entertainment as President of Production for Columbia Pictures. De Luca will partner with Hannah Minghella to oversee development and production for the Columbia Pictures label and will report to Doug Belgrad, President, Columbia Pictures.
“Mike has worked with us on several of our highest-quality and most commercial recent films, and he’s nurtured many of our generation’s most important filmmakers. Likewise, Hannah is a tremendous creative executive who has made major contributions to our entire slate, in particular our key Spider-Man and Jump Street franchises. Together, Hannah and Mike will be a formidable team,” said Belgrad.
As the story about the hijacking of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama unfolded on television in 2009, producers Michael De Luca and Dana Brunetti were transfixed. It was the first time a U.S. vessel had been seized by pirates since the 19th century, and it seemed to have the makings of a great movie. “We weren’t sure because it looked like it was going to be a very grim outcome,” Brunetti explains. “As Mike says, it (could have been) more of a Sundance movie.” But the story did end well. Captain Phillips (Sony) earned $25.7 million domestically in its October opening weekend, and Tom Hanks’ lead performance is drawing awards buzz.
AwardsLine: How did you first become involved with Captain Phillips?
Michael De Luca: We watched the news story, and after the situation was resolved, we thought there was a really good movie in there — stuff you couldn’t get from the news, like what was being said within the lifeboat, what the Navy was dealing with, getting all the assets into the region. So after we decided it would be a good movie, we took the next step, which was to see if the real Captain Phillips would engage with us. That’s where Dana and (production company) Trigger Street picked up the ball.
Dana Brunetti: About a week or so (after the rescue), I got the OK to go and meet with (Richard Phillips) in Vermont. He had just gotten back. I sat down at dinner with him, and he still had bruises on his wrist from being bound. You would never believe that he’d just gone through what he’d gone through because he’s just an everyman — dry sense of humor and just a regular good guy. Actually, I thought I’d have something in common with him because I was in the Coast Guard. So I threw that out and I found out that he’s not a big fan of the Coast Guard. (Laughs.) It was like, “Let’s change the topic.” About a week later, he said he wanted to go with us, but he wanted to wait for the book (A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALS And Dangerous Days At Sea, on which the film was based) to be done. He came back to us when it was done, and we went to Sony and set it up there.
Fox Developing Event Series About Whitey Bulger’s Enforcer With Peter Facinelli Co-Starring & Michael De Luca Producing
EXCLUSIVE: While Warner Bros. is working on its Ben Affleck/Matt Damon Whitey Bulger feature, another project about New England’s most notorious crime boss is coming together, this time in TV. Fox has put in development Street Soldier, an event series that has The Twilight Saga alum Peter Facinelli attached to play a lead and executive produce and Michael De Luca to executive produce. Street Soldier chronicles the life of boxer and drug dealer Eddie MacKenzie as an enforcer for Bulger and details how he was able to extricate himself from Whitey’s gang without getting killed. Larry Golin will write the script based on MacKenzie’s memoir Street Soldier: My Life As An Enforcer For Whitey Bulger And The Boston Irish Mob, co-penned by Phyllis Karas. De Luca, Golin and Facinelli will executive produce with Facinelli’s producing partner at A7SLE Films Rob DeFranco and Ted Mann (Hatfields & McCoys). A7SLE Films acquired Street Soldier several years ago and originally developed it as an indie feature.
ABC is taking another crack at bringing one of the most famous detective literary characters to primetime, this time teaming with the creator of its most successful crime-solving drama of the past decade. The network has put in development a Philip Marlowe drama project, inspired by Raymond Chandler’s famous hard-boiled detective, from Castle creator/executive producer/showrunner Andrew Marlowe (put your Marlowe pun in here) and feature producer Michael De Luca (Captain Phillips, Fifty Shades Of Grey). The project, from ABC Studios, where Marlowe is under an overall deal, is described as a smart, sexy and stylish update of Chandler’s character which follows the investigations of wisecracking, edgy and rugged private detective Philip Marlowe as he navigates the morally complicated world of today’s Los Angeles — where the bright California sun casts long and dangerous shadows…and where true love can be more difficult to find than justice. Marlowe is writing the script with his wife, Castle writer/consulting producer Terri Edda Miller, through their MilMar Pictures. The two are executive producing with De Luca through Michael De Luca Prods.
ABC previously tried launching a Philip Marlowe drama series during the 2006-2007 season when the project, shepherded by current Disney feature bigwig Sean Bailey, went to pilot with Jason O’Mara playing the famous detective. The Marlowe character is no stranger to television. Powers Boothe played the gumshoe in the early 1980s HBO period drama Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, which ran for several years. On the big screen, Marlowe has been played by Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Elliot Gould and James Garner among others.
EXCLUSIVE: Thunder Road has acquired No Quarter, a spec script by The Messenger scribe Alessandro Camon and Michael Wilson that will be produced by Thunder Road’s Basil Iwanyk and Michael De Luca. No Quarter is a contemporary crime story that touches on the themes of the military and the difficulty of reintegrating back into society after serving as a soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those were themes in The Messenger. Set in Los Angeles in 2007, two friends who were combat Marines and side by side survived some of the toughest fighting in the Iraq War, find themselves on opposite sides of the law. One becomes a star cop in an elite undercover unit while the other gets into a heist crew involved with a drug cartel. These men, who once depended on each other for survival, see their friendship and loyalties put to the test.
EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros won a multiple studio bidding battle for screen rights to an upcoming thriller novel by The Breach author Patrick Lee. Justin Lin is attached to direct and produce with Michael De Luca.
The untitled action thriller was just auctioned in a big pre-emptive, three-book deal that will be published next winter by Macmillan. The book is the first of a series featuring an ex-special operative named Sam Dryden. In the character-driven thriller, Dryden runs into a mysterious young girl who is not quite what she seems, and he embarks on a journey to keep her safe from a powerful government agent intent on hunting her down.
This comes as Lin puts the finishing touches on Fast & Furious 6 for Universal, which he directed and produced. That marks his fourth turn in the high-octane action series he helped revive, and Lin is now looking for other films to do through his Barnstorm Pictures banner. Barnstorm president of production Elaine Chin is also producing with Pouya Shahbazian, who manages the author.
Next year’s PGA Awards had been set for January 19. Here’s the release on the new date and the announcement of Michael De Luca as the show’s producer. He’s had plenty of experience in awards season, most recently as a producer on last year’s Moneyball and 2010′s The Social Network. Here’s the release:
LOS ANGELES (May 17, 2012) – The Producers Guild of America announced today that it has shifted the 24th Annual Producers Guild Awards ceremony to take place on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Additionally, Producers Guild Presidents Hawk Koch and Mark Gordon announced that the 2013 awards program, which honors excellence in motion picture and television production, will be produced by Academy-Award® nominated producer Michael De Luca.
EXCLUSIVE: Paramount Pictures has acquired the action-heist spec script Swindle, which will be developed by Moneyball producer Michael De Luca as a star vehicle for Megan Fox and Zoe Saldana. The actresses will produce with De Luca. Enzo Mileti and Scott Wilson wrote the script. The storyline is being kept under wraps but the spec sold after both Universal and Paramount chased it. The project came out of a desire by Fox and Saldana to do a movie together.
Although it had a troubled history with original director Steven Soderbergh leaving just days before production was to start, Moneyball is the classic example of producers saying “never say die.” That is certainly the case with Rachael Horovitz, who originally optioned the Michael Lewis book Moneyball: The Art Of Winning An Unfair Game, which dealt with Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane’s attempts to put together a successful team using unorthodox methods and a miniscule budget. Horovitz, a former VP at Fine Line Features and an exec at Revolution Studios, won an Emmy and Golden Globe for her company Specialty Films’ maiden voyage, Grey Gardens, and was bound and determined to make this movie happen. Eventually Sony got into a bidding war with Warner Bros and brought in Horovitz’s former New Line colleague Michael De Luca to co-produce. De Luca — New Line and DreamWorks’ former production head and now a successful producer of films like The Social Network, 21, Ghost Rider and the upcoming Butter and The Sitter – helped shape the film before Soderbergh’s exit and remained a strong force afterward when his Social Network colleague Scott Rudin came on board. Horovitz and De Luca talked to Deadline Awards Columnist Pete Hammond about the many curveballs Moneyball faced on its way to the screen — and six Oscar nominations including Best Picture and Best Actor for Brad Pitt.
AWARDSLINE: Rachael, you started this project, you optioned the book. Tell me how this came about.
HOROVITZ: The book had terrific heart. I felt that (the role of) Billy Beane would be great for an actor, and that the human story of the material was relatable. I was certain that the rights wouldn’t be available and they were. So, stunned, I took a shot at trying to set it up and discovered that all of the studios passed on it. So then I went back to the drawing board and came up with a pitch and set it up at Sony. Mike was just moving over from DreamWorks to being a producer at Sony and we had worked together at New Line.
L.A. Noir, the spec script Frank Darabont started shopping shortly after his ouster from AMC’s The Walking Dead, has landed at TNT with a pilot order. The project is based on John Buntin’s book L.A. Noir: The Struggle For The Soul Of America’s Most Seductive City, which chronicles the epic battle between Los Angeles Police Chief William Parker and mobster Mickey Cohen. In addition to writing, Darabont is set to direct the pilot and will executive produce with Michael De Luca (The Social Network, Moneyball ) and Elliot Webb (Tall Time Tales). TNT Original Prods will produce.
20th Century Fox Acquires ‘ESPN: Those Guys Have All The Fun’; Will Tell Story Of Sports Network Dynasty
EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox is closing a deal for screen rights to the oral history ESPN: Those Guys Have All The Fun. The studio will develop a feature about the formation of the 24-hour sports network. The pic will be produced by Michael De Luca, Trigger Street’s Dana Brunetti and Julie Yorn. The book by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales follows a format similar to Live From New York, the oral history they wrote about Saturday Night Live. Here, they use the voices of past and present ESPN personalities and producers to tell the story of how a father and son maxed out their credit cards to scrape together the cash to reserve a satellite transponder so they could show sporting events nonstop on a 24-hour station. The book is a gossipy journey about how that venture turned from a 1970s joke that started with broadcasts of Australian rules football and rodeo, to a dominant brand in the sporting world that broadcast pro football and baseball games and become arguably the most profitable cable network ever created.