Sony taps Michael De Luca to head production at Columbia Pictures

Sony taps Michael De Luca to head production at Columbia Pictures
Michael De Luca has produced such films as "Captain Phillips" and "Moneyball."

Sony Pictures Entertainment has named Michael De Luca to be head of production for its Columbia Pictures unit.

De Luca, whose namesake production company has had a production and development deal with Columbia since 2004, will share the role with Hannah Minghella, the company's current head of production.


Among De Luca's recent credits are "Captain Phillips," "The Social Network" and "Moneyball" -- all of which were released by Sony Pictures, a unit of Tokyo-based Sony Corp.

He will assume the post after he completes production of the movie adaptation of "Fifty Shades of Grey," which he is co-producing for Universal Pictures and Focus Features. That project, based on the bestselling book of the same name, is currently in production and slated to be released Feb. 13, 2015. It is scheduled to wrap production in late February.

De Luca will also continue to work on "Dracula Untold," which he is producing for Universal; that project has wrapped production and will be released by the studio Oct. 17.

Columbia Pictures has had a tough year, releasing a handful of box-office duds, including "After Earth" and "White House Down." Sony Pictures, for months the focus of scrutiny from activist hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb, posted an operating loss of $181 million for the company's fiscal second quarter, which ended Sept. 30.

In May, Loeb began a campaign of public pleas for the company to adopt his proposal to make an initial public stock offering of up to 20% of its entertainment division. Loeb's company, Third Point, owns about 7% of Sony. The company rejected his proposal in August.

De Luca will report to Doug Belgrad, president of Columbia.

"Mike has worked with us on several of our highest-quality and most commercial recent films, and he's nurtured many of our generation's most important filmmakers," Belgrad said in a statement. "Likewise, Hannah is a tremendous creative executive who has made major contributions to our entire slate, in particular our key 'Spider-Man' and 'Jump Street' franchises. Together, Hannah and Mike will be a formidable team."

De Luca's most recent picture, the Tom Hanks thriller "Captain Phillips," has grossed $189 million worldwide since being released by Sony Pictures on Oct. 11. De Luca will remain an active producer, working on developing films his production company has set up at the studio.

"I'm honored to be formalizing my relationship with the studio and look forward to working with the team to reach new heights," he said in a statement.

Once known as much for his hard-charging ways and embrace of life in the fast lane as for his movies, De Luca has also held senior production positions at DreamWorks and New Line Cinema. At DreamWorks, he oversaw the development of the Will Ferrell hits "Old School" And "Anchorman."

Sony also announced Friday that Belgrad's role would expand to encompass duties across the the studio's motion picture group, which also includes the Screen Gems and TriStar Pictures companies.