L-R: Michael De Luca, Pam Abdy (Courtesy of AP)
Amazon has parted ways with two top MGM film executives roughly a month after it closed its $8.5 billion deal to buy the studio.
Michael De Luca, the motion picture group chairman, and Pamela Abdy, the motion picture group president, have resigned.
De Luca had recently made overtures to David Zaslav about coming to Warner Bros. Discovery, according to multiple insiders, going so far as writing an impassioned hand-written letter about how he’d shape film programming at the newly-merged company.
The rumor mill has been swirling in recent weeks about the executive’s long-term future, with many predicting that he would be headed for the exit soon.
De Luca was initially announced as an interim leader of MGM’s film arm in March, but many wondered how he would be able to maintain a position once the studio was more fully integrated into Amazon’s operations.
While MGM notably released Daniel Craig’s James Bond swan song “No Time to Die,” its slate was largely populated by mid-budget, adult-skewing fare — the kind of content that media companies have been diverting to steaming services in a theatrical landscape dominated by established intellectual property and superhero adventures.
A major lingering question in Amazon’s acquisition of MGM is the fate of United Artists Releasing — the joint distribution venture the studio entered into several years ago with Megan Ellison’s Annapurna. While De Luca and Abdy’s departure might place that operation in a more perilous light, Amazon head of Prime Video and studio operations Mike Hopkins underscored the corporate monolith’s commitment to theatrical in his own memo about the staff changes.
“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,” Hopkins wrote.
De Luca and Abdy depart MGM with several projects in production or post-production, including George Clooney’s next directorial effort “The Boys in the Boat,” and Sylvester Stallone’s “Samaritan.”
Read De Luca and Abdy’s full memo to staff:
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
Variety's Brett Lang and Matt Donnelly contributed to this post.