Roughly 2 weeks ago, I had a lengthy, informative, candid conversation with DeVon Franklin (SVP of Production at Columbia Pictures) here in New York City (one of a handful of Hollywood studio executives of African descent) – an almost all-encompassing interview that will be published on this site in the next week or 2.
One of the items he shared during that meeting was this news that has been officially announced today.
In short, Franklin has inked a first-look production deal with Sony via his Franklin Entertainment production company, which will include the development of projects for both film and TV.
And while faith-based programming might seem to be his wheelhouse, Franklin plans to develop projects at the studio that will target mainstream audiences as well, as he’s done in the past.
For example, one project he shared his excitement for during our conversation is “Masters of the Universe” (based on the media franchise created by Mattel) – a property he has long wanted to bring to the screen, and which is currently in development at the studio, with Steve Tisch, Jason Blumenthal and Todd Black.
Other projects on the horizon include an adaptation of “Gran Turismo,” the video game franchise, with Dana Brunetti.
In addition to being a studio executive, Franklin is also an ordained preacher, and a published author (his “Produced by Faith” is a self-help bestseller), and motivational speaker. During his almost 10 years at Sony, he has overseen the development and production of a handful of projects at the studio, like “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “The Karate Kid” (the Jaden Smith version), “Jumping The Broom,” and most recently, “Heaven Is for Real” (a very successful faith-based film that will be sequelized in the upcoming “Heaven Changes Everything”).
“This faith-based content matters to us, it’s a super profitable niche and DeVon with Sony has demonstrated leadership to that space,” Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia Pictures, said. “This is a plan tailor-made for DeVon’s specific skill set and interests. It’s clear that his ambition was to get closer to the product and maintain his speaking and writing career.”
My full interview with DeVon, in which he discussed all of the above, will be published within the next week, so look out for it!