UPDATE, 10:55 AM: Deadline spoke with Dana Brunetti this morning about the PGA’s failure to grant him a ‘p.g.a.’ mark on Fifty Shades Darker, and he told us, “I don’t care about the mark on this movie, it’s about the principle, particularly in regards to my past experience with the PGA and what I’ve seen happen to other producers.”
PGA’s ruling on Brunetti’s mark is quite premature as the org typically also assesses the degree to which a producer has been involved in the marketing and post production of a movie. In the case of Darker, Brunetti has been involved in production every step of the way including getting director James Foley to board the last two Fifty movies after helming House of Cards episodes. In addition, Brunetti was instrumental in attaching E.L. James’ husband Niall Leonard to adapt the last two Fifty books in the series for the screen. “The PGA is making a determination on this film before it’s even completed,” points out Brunetti. Fifty Shades Darker is still in post, and the first rough cut was shown three weeks ago on the Universal lot with Brunetti, author/producer E.L. James, and director James Foley in attendance. Insiders close to Fifty Shades Darker tell us that Brunetti was involved predominantly more on the sequel than other credited producers were on previous films where he has shared credit.
Brunetti further shared with us the frustrations he’s had with the PGA over marks in the past for Captain Phillips and The Social Network; it’s a complete upset for a producer who constantly has his boots on the ground, not just with Fifty, but with his Netflix series House of Cards in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Social Network began with Michael De Luca and Brunetti after meeting with Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, and despite that they still had to appeal and fight for their PGA marks. Scott Rudin feasibly received his, despite boarding after De Luca and Brunetti. Initially Brunetti was granted a p.g.a mark after the appeal, and De Luca wasn’t, but ultimately in the end, PGA granted him one. Similar scenarios prevailed with Captain Phillips with the project starting with Brunetti; he literally flew to Vermont to get Captain Richard Phillips and take him to Sony so that they could land his life rights. Ultimately AMPAS recognized both Brunetti and De Luca for both titles at the 2014 Oscars.
“They’re not a real guild and their only power in my opinion is arbitrating credits and they become overzealous in how they do it…The WGA, DGA, and SAG all protect their members. A writer gets paid on projects all the time, whether a project gets made or not. A producer does not. Producers don’t get paid unless a project gets made, and there’s multiple times when I’ve committed to and prepared films that haven’t moved forward,” said Brunetti. “Where’s my guild to protect me then? The first person who gets knocked down when a production moves forward is the producer on their fees. That doesn’t happen to writers, directors or actors; they have minimums and get paid.” Brunetti has had to defer his fee sometimes on independent movies, or sometimes doesn’t receive payment at all on them, and in such cases the PGA has never come to the rescue in regards to setting minimums – because they’re not a union.
Further to the point, it’s not the PGA who determines producing credits, rather it’s the studios. The org has a 42-point process by which they assess whether a producer is designated a ‘p.g.a.’ mark. They survey a number of below-the-line production people and those in development in ruling who is awarded the ‘p.g.a’ mark. The PGA evaluates producers’ marks, even if it’s a sequel, as individual, respective cases, meaning Brunetti could conceivably be re-evaluated and receive one on Fifty Shades Freed should he decide to submit. Submitting for the ‘p.g.a’ mark is voluntary on a producer’s behalf. One insider tells us that the PGA’s refusal to grant a mark to Brunetti doesn’t stem from the fact that he is a studio production chief at Relativity.
PREVIOUS, 7:30AM: Dana Brunetti took to Facebook last night informing that the Producers Guild of America has pulled his producing mark on Universal’s Fifty Shades Of Grey sequel Fifty Shades Darker. The PGA has deemed that only Michael De Luca and Fifty Shades author E.L. James will be producers with the “p.g.a” mark on the new film. Brunetti is still credited as a producer, he just doesn’t have the mark., which means in an awards consideration scenario for the film, only De Luca and James can be credited. Brunetti’s producing credit and compensation are unaffected on the sequel.
Originally on 2015’s Fifty Shades Of Grey, which made $571 million at the global box office, Brunetti shared a producing credit and mark alongside De Luca and James. Earlier this year, he became president of Relativity. The PGA’s moves here bring to mind what occurred with Brad Grey on Martin Scorsese’s The Departed: Grey was a prime mover on that 2006 title, but because he was the chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures at the time of its release, the guild didn’t grant him a producing credit on that Oscar-winning film.
Brunetti published the PGA’s letter on Facebook. It reads in part: “The Panel determined after careful consideration that while Dana Brunetti made significant contributions to the production of this film, the evidence does not support a finding that he himself performed a major portion of the producing functions on this film in a decision-making capacity, as is required for eligibility pursuant to section B of The Rules.”
Brunetti has routinely on Facebook shared posts and pictures from his visit to the Vancouver set (the film is set in Seattle):
Brunetti also shared his letter to the PGA Executive Director Vance Van Patten, which reads “This is a joke, though after our conversation last week I can’t say I’m surprised. Frankly, as I told you then I don’t care about the mark, but know beyond that your organization again is WRONG. I am going to use this as platform to rally against the Producers ‘Guild’ with a vengeance. This is the last straw with me of my guild screwing me over. Your purpose is to protect me, yet continually you have done the opposite and caused me grief and stress. I want to dismantle that joke of a guild to the ground. It is time for a new regime there to bring that out dated place up to the times and have people who actually produce get their deserved credit, not what some “board” of has beens in an office determines. I doubt those who made this decision could produce their way out of a paper bag.”
Brunetti also tweeted out the following last night saying that he doesn’t want to appeal: