Started by wilder, April 28, 2020, 09:57:53 AM
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QuoteMichael De Luca and Pam Abdy, on the other hand, are likely to be welcomed in the film community with wide-open arms. Between them they have decades of industry experience, and De Luca's relationships with talent in particular were a selling point with Zaslav. (He has surely observed what Hollywood does to outsiders who start making pronouncements without a goodwill ambassador to guide and protect them.) De Luca's affability helped him compete for talent and material when he was situated at MGM, a studio that wouldn't have been top of the list for anyone with something good to sell. But the more potent lure is always money, and De Luca is known for spending it. That would appear to be very much at odds with Zaslav's natural inclinations and, given the debt, imperative to keep a tight rein on costs.Even some of De Luca's friends worry how this will go. "He's talent-friendly, he's a passionate advocate for certain kinds of projects," says an executive who knows him well. "Is that going to cut it in a big corporate environment?"A veteran high-level player actually chortles when asked to prognosticate. "I love Mike. But Mike has been totally consistent in making movies that are flashy and lose a lot of money," he says (with some hyperbole). "Zas says, 'We're going to make hits for less money' and then you hire a guy who does the exact opposite." Says another longtime insider: "The idea of fiscal responsibility and creative freedom? Someone's head's going to pop off."Certainly De Luca and Abdy spent money at MGM, though a source says they stayed within the development and production budgets they were given. Their mandate as chairman and president, respectively, was to make the drifting studio look like it was in the game to help drum up a sale. (The logic of this is unclear as the Bond franchise and the library were the real assets on the block.)Insiders saw De Luca's hire there then — and at Warners now — as evidence of the great persuasive powers of CAA's Bryan Lourd. And certainly many CAA clients benefited from the deals that followed. Paul Thomas Anderson made Licorice Pizza, Lady Gaga starred in House of Gucci, Joe Wright and Peter Dinklage made Cyrano, and so on.MGM was in the awards conversation and Licorice Pizza was the studio's first best picture contender since Rain Man in 1988. But sources say leaders at Amazon, which acquired MGM for a rich $8.5 billion in March, were astonished at the tens of millions of losses on the slate. In fairness, the movies were released theatrically during the pandemic. But Licorice Pizza cost about $50 million and grossed a paltry $32 million. Cyrano was dead on arrival. And Amazon has a few more left in the pipeline that are expected to fare poorly.Looking at that history, there is plenty of reason to see De Luca and Zaslav as a very odd match. "People admire Mike's taste and they love being in business with him," says one De Luca associate. "But people, I know, had urged them to give him something smaller, not as big a thing. This is a big thing."