According to today’s press release, Sony has extended Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael Lynton’s contract to 2012. His co-chairman Amy Pascal was already reupped through 2011, so no surprise here. Especially with the studio doing so ridiculously well, recently joining the $1+ billion club for 2007 domestic box office gross for the 6th year in a row. But, silly me, I thought movie-making was a byzantium for the young. Instead, the trend now is to sign moguls to new contracts for years and years and years to come. Lynton, Pascal and the more senior Ron Meyer, already re-signed by Universal through 2012, may be using walkers on the lot before their deals come due again. The other studio moguls aren’t spring chickens, either. (Hopefully, geezer Bob Shaye will be shown the door at down for the count New Line when his contract expires in 2008…) About every 10 years, I hope for the beginning of a long-overdue generational shift in Hollywood: a time, as I last wrote in 1999, to finally bring new blood into an industry staggering on its last legs. By 2010, most executive suites at the studios will be overrun with over-fifty and over-sixty fogies, all overcompensated and entrenched managers. There’s something unseemly about graying studio bosses making movies for horny 15-year-olds (especially when the mogul oldsters are intolerant of aging in their screenwriters or directors or actresses).
For years, whenever a top studio executive has jumped or been pushed, the same usual suspects have been bandied about as possible replacements, the same people who have been deciding which projects get made in this town for one, two, even three decades. Only the studios change; the names remain the same. That’s why the dream factories of legend are suffering such severe anemia. And why the movie business has lost two generations worth of younger managers fed up with waiting their turn to get to the top. It’s as if an invisible but universally understood addendum had been hung from the fabled Hollywood sign: vacancies. nice surroundings, good perks. no one new need apply. Heck, I remember when Lynton himself was considered a breath of fresh air, plucked out of book publishing by Disney to work at Hollywood Pictures. But he didn’t last long that time around.
Now, Lynton is a seasoned mogul. “Michael Lynton’s financial acumen and firm grasp of content in the digital era is exactly what’s needed to lead a studio in the 21st century,” said Sony’s Sir Howard Stringer in the flackery handout. “Together he and Amy have become a forceful and dynamic team, guiding the studio to even greater heights than I could have hoped.” Lynton, who’s been at Sony since 2004, said, “I enjoy my work more than words can easily express, and hope to continue growing this business for years to come.” My guesstimate is that Lynton and Pascal will probably outlast the embattled Stringer in their respective jobs.