MGM Distributor Erik Lomis, Dead at 64, Represents Massive Loss of Institutional Knowledge

A box-office and distribution strategist par excellence, Lomis cared deeply about his work. His final efforts will be seen with the theatrical release of Ben Affleck's "Air."
BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 21: Erik Lomis, President of Distribution / United Artists Releasing speaks onstage at Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation's 2022 Pioneer Dinner Honoring Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson at The Beverly Hilton on September 21, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images,)
Erik Lomis
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Erik Lomis, MGM’s head of theatrical distribution, died Wednesday in Santa Monica, California. He was 64. No cause of death has been confirmed.

Over three decades, Lomis led distribution at MGM across two of its incarnations as well as at The Weinstein Company, Annapurna Pictures, and United Artists, where he spent years as the overseer of the James Bond franchise. Among the titles he handled across his career were “The Artist,” “The Iron Lady,” “The King’s Speech,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Imitation Game” as well as “Inherent Vice” and “If Beale Street Could Talk.”

Before he moved into distribution, Lomis was head film buyer at Philadephia’s Sameric Theaters, a circuit of more than 100 theaters in the northeast. He later became head film buyer at United Artists Theaters, which acquired the Sameric chain.

Lomis was a second-generation distributor: His dad, Irving Lomis, was also a film buyer at Sameric and was a district manager at Embassy Pictures, a producer-distributor with titles that included “The Graduate,” “Lion in Winter,” and “The Pawnbroker.” Irving Lomis was inducted into the ShowEast (a CinemaCon progenitor) hall of fame in 2002.

Erik Lomis wasn’t afraid to advocate for unusual or creative distribution strategies. While president of distribution at UA, he released Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2021 “Licorice Pizza” in a slow burn of single-screening, 70mm previews while the rest of the country had to wait another month for Christmas Day.

From 2001-2004, Lomis worked with the late Bingham Ray, who was president of UA in a period where the company focused on specialized titles. Both men were passionate advocates, for films and for their own beliefs, which didn’t always make for an easy partnership: Ray was the quixotic creative, Lomis was the box-office strategist, and both weren’t above getting angry when they felt the occasion demanded it.

That ability to stand his ground put Lomis in good stead when he moved to The Weinstein Company. Based in Los Angeles, he went toe to toe with the impossible owner and survived the experience.

In 2022, he rejoined MGM after its purchase by Amazon. He most recently handled the release of “Creed III,” and was the architect of the aggressive theatrical strategy for the upcoming Ben Affleck and Matt Damon film “Air.” His unexpected passing leaves a tremendous gap of institutional knowledge for MGM and Amazon, and for the industry at large.

Born in 1958, Lomis grew up in Philadelphia, and attended Thomas Jefferson University, graduating in 1980. Lomis is survived by his wife, Patricia Laucella; his children, Natalia Jovovich, Nicole Rose Lomis, and Zach Lomis; his stepmother, Joanne Lomis; and his sister and brother Sandy McGuigan and Charles Lomis.

Tom Brueggemann contributed to this report.

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