Deconstructing De Luca - Fade In: interviews New Line Cinema's production head

"In a world of test scores and statistical market analyses, Michael De Luca tends to play his hunches in a way unseen since the days of the studio moguls. And for a guy who bootstrapped his way from blue-collar obscurity into the only job he ever wanted, De Luca, the inveterate outsider and industry maverick, has now taken root in the very center of Hollywood power."
Already a veteran at thirty-five, Michael De Luca has watched New Line Cinema evolve from a maverick genre upstart to a major supplier of box-office bonanzas. But his greatest challenges may come in the months ahead with New Line’s largest production ever, Peter Jackson’s $180 million Lord of the Rings trilogy, which recently completed principle photography.

Here is a portion of the Fade In: interview dealing with LOTR.

Can you make films as big as you want? No. We have parameters. We’re doing Lord of the Rings, which is pretty big. That speaks for what we’re able to do in a bigger category for almost the three years that it’s going to take to produce and release all the movies.

You’re going to do one a year? They’ll be released once a year starting December 2001. So there is a lot of flexibility here. We can do films for under ten and take it all the way up to ninety. But we can’t abuse that privilege. There has to be a reason. And most of our films are in the middle range.

And you don’t find there are bigger things you’d like to do? No, it sounds corny, but it’s really about the story. There’s nothing sexier to me about working on a bigger-budget movie. It’s actually more nerve-racking — a lot more can go wrong and you can lose a lot more. When I look back on our own personal experience, most of our hits have been in this 25-to-35 range, with a few exceptions on either side — the higher side and the lower side. But it’s nice to know that if something great comes along that’s higher-end, that we can afford it.

What if Lord of the Rings totally tanks? Companies move on, and they recover. I always feel like the next hit’s around the corner. This is a weird business, because you can commit mistake after mistake and not lose your job, or get another job next year, or get a golden parachute. It’s just movies. I’ve never worried about my livelihood, because I always felt like either I’ll do something else or, literally, the next hit is around the corner.

If the first one tanks, are the second two dead in the water? No, we’ve got to deal with it. If the first one doesn’t work, God forbid, we’ve got two in the can. So we’re going to have to be pretty innovative about how we deal with those.

Please click on the link below to read the entire interview.

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