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MGM has just seen its first significant executive exits following the studio’s acquisition by Amazon.
Michael De Luca, the motion picture group chairman of MGM, has resigned, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. Pam Abdy, MGM’s motion picture group president, is also exiting.
“We will depart our roles this summer,” the duo wrote in a memo to staff. “We are confident that the exciting vision Prime Video and Amazon Studios has for MGM and the organization [Amazon Studios and Prime Video senior vp] Mike Hopkins is building along with [Amazon Studios chief] Jennifer Salke and team, will guarantee MGM’s continued success.”
The move comes over a month after Amazon closed its $8.5 billion deal to acquire the storied movie studio and is in some ways expected, with many observers wondering how the movie company’s executives would mesh with the Amazon culture.
In a separate memo to staff thanking the pair for their service, Hopkins noted that Amazon had big plans for its new jewel, and would not only invest in moviemaking but also have theatrical releasing as a big part of the strategy, giving insight perhaps for the first time into the grander scheme.
“Nurturing MGM’s legacy of quality storytelling is a top priority,” noted Hopkins in his memo. “MGM has indeed become a home for great storytellers. And this home is only going to expand, as we invest and work together to release an even larger theatrical slate in the years ahead. Doing this requires an amazing team, and the more we get to know you all, the more impressed we are.”
A longtime executive and producer, De Luca became MGM’s movie chairman in 2020, taking on the role just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and Hollywood, as well as the rest of the country, went into lockdown. Amazon initially made the purchase in May 2021, with the deal finally closing in March.
The studio became part of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, led by senior vp Mike Hopkins. MGM’s COO Christopher Brearton, worldwide television group chairman Mark Burnett, and De Luca were to be joining his team. In the feature space, however, questions remained how synergistically the two companies would operate and whether MGM would be a separate division or integrated into a larger whole.
Under De Luca’s tenure, the company made and released the Oscar-nominated House of Gucci and the surprise Channing Tatum hit Dog. He also opened up the purse strings to stack the studio’s cupboard with enviable and starry projects, such as Ryan Gosling-Andy Weir package Project Hail Mary.
The memo from Amazon’s Hopkins is below:
Good morning team,
As you likely just read, Mike and Pam have decided to leave MGM to pursue the next chapter of their careers. I know you’ll join me in thanking them for their leadership, working with each of you to bring compelling storytelling to audiences worldwide. We wish them both continued success.
As I said at our town hall in March, nurturing MGM’s legacy of quality storytelling is a top priority. MGM has indeed become a home for great storytellers. And this home is only going to expand, as we invest and work together to release an even larger theatrical slate in the years ahead. Doing this requires an amazing team, and the more we get to know you all, the more impressed we are.
Mike and Pam will depart this summer, which will allow us to continue the phased and measured approach to integration with Prime Video and Amazon Studios. Meanwhile, the current interim structure remains in place.
Thanks for all your commitment and dedication, as together we continue to produce extraordinary film and television for a diverse, global audience.
The memo from De Luca and Abdy is below:
A little over two years ago we came to MGM to help restore its vibrancy among the storied studios of the last century and we are proud to say, thanks to all of you and your efforts, it is mission accomplished. With our goal achieved, and as we look ahead, we feel now is the right time for us to move on and explore our next chapter and challenge. We will depart our roles this summer. We are confident that the exciting vision Prime Video and Amazon Studios has for MGM and the organization Mike Hopkins is building along with Jennifer Salke and team, will guarantee MGM’s continued success.
Beginning with our arrival in early 2020, we were given the opportunity to revitalize and quickly grow MGM’s film slate by creating a home for the world’s best storytellers to make films for global audiences. We could not have imagined that shortly after our arrival the world would be impacted by a pandemic that essentially shut down our industry, nor could we have foreseen the various immediate and longer term challenges the pandemic would put in our path.
With the support of every member of MGM’s production team, and with our filmmaking partners by our side, we were able to get back to making movies and ultimately put in motion a deep bench of films, from filmmakers including Ridley Scott, Paul Thomas Anderson, Joe Wright, Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin, Ron Howard, George Miller, Billy Porter, Sarah Polley, Chinonye Chukwu, Cory Finley, Zach Braff, George Clooney, Michael B. Jordan, Emma Seligman, Luca Guadagnino, Zoe Kravitz, Rachel Morrison and many others, with the goal of creating a lineup of movies that would appeal to every kind of audience. Included among our slate are several films from Orion Pictures, which we relaunched under the leadership of Alana Mayo in August of 2020 amid the long overdue examination of America’s relationship with race, with the goal of making films exclusively focused on – and brought to us by – underrepresented voices.
It’s been our honor and privilege to preside over a revitalized studio that navigated, along with our partners at Eon, the right release date for Daniel Craig’s final outing as James Bond and seeing the film become one of the highest grossing films of 2021; while also seeing the studio earn eight Academy Award and seventeen BAFTA-nominations, with Licorice Pizza earning the studio’s first Best Picture Academy Award-nomination in over thirty years.
You, as well as our colleagues at UAR and Universal and all our filmmakers, have made all this possible and we are so grateful to have been part of such an incredible team. We are also grateful to Kevin Ulrich and everyone at Anchorage Capital, along with Chris Brearton, for bringing us in and wish everyone at Prime Video and Amazon Studios and MGM nothing but the best success going forward.
Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy
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