Former New Line-DreamWorks-Sony exec and Fifty Shades of Grey franchise producer Michael De Luca will imminently be named to a post that comes closer to the job that Gary Barber had before the chairman/CEO got fired in 2018, sources said. Sources said that De Luca will take a post as chairman of the MGM Film Group, putting him on equal footing on the film side with MGM Worldwide Television Group chairman Mark Burnett, who steers MGM’s small screen fortunes. The changeover should happen in March, but possibly sooner.
That makes sense for De Luca, who declined an opportunity to run Paramount for Jim Gianopulos; he wanted the top spot. After executive stints at New Line and then Sony before he left when Tom Rothman got the top job over De Luca and Doug Belgrad. De Luca instead became a Universal-based producer whose run included the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. The former Boy Wonder who in his 20s presided over films from Se7en to Rush Hour and Boogie Nights and Austin Powers at New Line, wanted his chance to call the shots in film. It sounds like he might have that scenario here. De Luca has been splitting his week between Los Angeles and Texas, where his family now resides. That will likely continue in some form. He is a producer of Reminiscence, the Lisa Joy-directed thriller that stars Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson, and he is percolating such films as an authorized love story between John Lennon and Yoko Ono that The Two Popes scribe Anthony McCarten is writing.
Glickman has headed MGM’s film development, production and co-financing arrangements, as well as their live stage productions. He’s been at the studio since 2011 and has provided stability despite MGM being a studio in flux for a very long time. He arrived at MGM with Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum from Spyglass Entertainment and outlasted both of them. Following Barber being ousted as MGM CEO in 2018, Glickman has been leading the studio. Glickman’s current contract, renewed in 2016, expires in February 2020.
Glickman has been very involved with the upcoming James Bond movie No Time to Die, which is in the middle of post production and opens Easter weekend on April 10 (Universal is handling overseas). Glickman will see through that film for producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson. Glickman’s tenure includes the release of the last two Bond blockbusters, the Sam Mendes-directed Skyfall and Spectre.
As often seems to be the case, Glickman steps out at a time when MGM is poised to have its best film year in eons. A new version of the Creed franchise is rounding into shape with prospects looking good that its star, Michael B. Jordon might direct it. After turning out a hit with the animated The Addams Family, which grossed $97.1M at the domestic B.O., $197M worldwide, a sequel is set for an October 22, 2021 release. Another film on the slate that could be a hit is Bill and Ted Face the Music (August 21), which brings back the venerable stoners. Upcoming is the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect (October 9).
Sources said Glickman will move into a non exclusive film producing deal at MGM and be assigned projects. One he might come attached to is the Aretha Franklin project after tying down the exclusive music rights to key tunes in the movie including Respect and Natural Woman. There is every reason to imagine Glickman will be useful to De Luca as a producer. Their relationship goes back to when Glickman produced the Rush Hour movies at New Line, where De Luca was the key exec on the franchise.
This move looks like it was heavily influenced by Burnett, the chairman of MGM Worldwide Television Group who is a key mover for the board headed by Kevin Ulrich, the CEO of Anchorage Capital who was instrumental in ousting Barber when the top exec wanted to sell MGM. Burnett is best known for Survivor, and Glickman qualifies as the definition of that. He worked for Barber and Roger Birnbaum at Spyglass when that duo took the reins of MGM after the exit of Mary Parent, as the company was preparing to move out of Chapter 11. MGM came back as a production entity with no distribution.
That changed during Glickman’s run, when MGM last February formed United Artists Releasing, a joint marketing and distribution venture with Annapurna Pictures, which wasn’t making enough pictures to justify a whole releasing operation. The joint venture pooled the distribution resources of Annapurna, MGM and Orion into a cohesive apparatus to release titles from all three studios, supplemented by select third-party films. This was in effort to compete with the major studios. United Artists Releasing made $280M at the 2019 domestic box office, +45% from the combined MGM and Annapurna total in 2018.
The following was sent by the MGM Board of Directors to staff just now:
Dear Team MGM,
We wanted to share some important news. After an eight-year tenure as President of the Motion Picture Group, Jonathan Glickman will be segueing to a first-look producing agreement with MGM effective February 1. Jonathan’s first priority will be to oversee the completion of EON’s 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die, that is set for release this April. His first project as a producer with MGM will commence with the Aretha Franklin biopic,Respect.
As many of you know, Glickman joined MGM in 2011. Working in close collaboration with Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, MGM released Sam Mendes’ Skyfall, which at $1.1B, is the highest grossing film in the 007 franchise, as well as its follow-up, Spectre. Glickman also brought together MGM and Chartoff-Winkler’s Rocky franchise for a new take with Ryan Coogler’s commercial and critically successfulCreed, and its sequel. During his tenure, MGM relaunched the classic MGM brand, Orion Pictures, which was revived as a genre and targeted audience label.
In a personal message to the company, Glickman stated: “It’s been a great honor to have overseen MGM’s film division’s revival over the past eight years. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to work on movies that I love, with some of the most talented filmmakers in the world, and with colleagues that consistently inspired me. I am extremely enthusiastic about our 2020 slate, I can think of no better way to conclude this studio run than a third Bond film with Michael, Barbara, Daniel, Cary and company on No Time to Die. I’m excited to return full-time to my first professional passion – producing entertaining and compelling films – while continuing to collaborate with the brilliant MGM team.”
In addition to the Creed and Bond franchises, the Motion Picture Group’s highlights include 2019’sThe Addams Family, which has earned nearly $200M WW and was the top non-sequel animated film of the year; the sleeper romance Me Before You, which earned $205M, Tomb Raider starring Alicia Vikander, which earned $275M globally; andThe Magnificent Seven starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. Glickman’s tenure was represented by balancing the key MGM franchise relationships while bringing new filmmakers and talent to the studio such as Ryan Coogler, Cary Fukunaga, Michael B. Jordan, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Jordan Peele, who wrote and produced this summer’s Candyman. Of note, 26.6% of the directors hired during Glickman’s tenure for MGM productions were female (well above the industry average at 6-9% during the same period), including the upcoming 2020 releases Candyman directed by Nia DaCosta and Respect directed by Liesl Tommy.
I know you will join us in thanking Jonathan for his passion and commitment and wish him well as he enters this next chapter of his career.
MGM’s Board of Directors