Mike De Luca is leaving his post as Sony Pictures president of production to return to producing the Fifty Shades Of Grey saga at Universal, where he is making an overall deal. There were rumors about this for the past couple of weeks, after a different set of rumors he might replace Adam Goodman at Paramount. All of this followed Tom Rothman replacing Amy Pascal at the top of Sony. It was Pascal who hired De Luca, after they collaborated on such films he produced as The Social Network, Moneyball and Captain Phillips.
Initially, De Luca denied he was going to make this move. Despite the Sony shakeup that made sense as he was actively competing for projects, including the short film Sundays which went to Warner Bros. Also because De Luca was eager to burnish the rep he earned at New Line, where he became among the youngest production presidents at a major film company, and championed disruptive films from Boogie Nights to Se7en and many other memorable hits. Among the many execs he empowered who’ve gone on to great things was Donna Langley, who runs the show at Universal and remains very fond of De Luca and his willingness to trust his instincts and gut. Apparently the money involved in the future Fifty Shades installments–tens of millions of dollars, potentially–was too great for him to turn down. That film grossed $564 million worldwide, but it fell off the cliff quickly in the U.S. and its narrative became about the creative disputes that director Sam-Taylor Johnson had over control with E.L. James, who authored the book trilogy that sold over 100 million copies worldwide. De Luca will rejoin Dana Brunetti, his collaborator on The Social Network and Captain Phillips.
De Luca will transition out in the next few weeks, and the production department under Tom Rothman will be steered by production president Hannah Minghella and Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad. De Luca was a ravenous buyer for Sony in his short tenure at the studio, bringing in a number of potential franchises for the studio that are progressing quickly. Among the prominent scripts he won was the Jon Spaihts script Passengers, which has gotten Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence starring for The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum. De Luca won’t be exclusive to Universal in a producing deal that studio hasn’t yet confirmed, and he’s got several producing projects at Sony, including Gran Torino and Evel Knievel. News of his departure was broken by our sister publication Variety.
De Luca issued this statement: “There are fantastic things happening at Sony right now. I am crazy about Tom, Doug, Hannah and the whole team here and there is incredible new energy and optimism about what’s going on, so this was a really hard decision for me. I literally wish I could be in two places at once, but the opportunity to resume my producing career right now, including the possibility of continuing on the Fifty Shades trilogy, makes this the right choice for me at this unique moment in time. I look forward to continuing to work with Columbia on my existing productions there.”
Said Belgrad: “Mike will always be family to us. He is one of those guys who can do it all. As he transitions back to producing, we’re thrilled that we’ll be continuing to work with him on several Sony projects.”