Sony is still reeling from the switch in roles of talent-friendly free-spending Amy Pascal and tough fiscal conservative Tom Rothman as studio head and star producer, which has led to Sony/Columbia producer-turned-production co-chief Michael De Luca taking his producing shingle to Universal, where chairman Donna Langley seems to be righting the ship.
She was responsible for launching blockbuster franchise "Fifty Shades of Grey," which De Luca will now return to as a more active producer. She needs his help, with producer Dana Brunetti, to keep the sequels on track, as demanding author E.L. James drove away director Sam Taylor-Johnson. De Luca’s great strengths as a producer are script development, casting and talent mongering.
Universal Pictures today made the announcement official that the studio has entered into a three-year, first look production agreement with the Academy Award-nominated independent producer. At Columbia Pictures De Luca oversaw a slate that included the upcoming films "Pixels and Grimsby," as well as the Ron Howard film "Inferno," the studio’s remake with MGM of "The Magnificent Seven," and Paul Feig’s new "Ghostbusters." He also brought in "Passengers," with Morten Tyldum directing Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, as well as "The 75" with Yann Demange directing and "The Gray Man" with Joe and Anthony Russo adapting.
During De Luca’s decade-long production deal with Columbia, he produced Oscar contenders "Captain Phillips" and "Moneyball" and "The Social Network." De Luca served as DreamWorks’ Head of Production from 2001 to 2004, overseeing the live-action division and the production of such films as "Old School" and "Anchorman." Earlier in his career, he spent seven years as President and COO of New Line Productions where he launched the "Friday," "Blade," "Austin Powers" and "Rush Hour" franchises.