Sony chief executive Michael Lynton’s announcement that Tom Rothman would succeed Amy Pascal at the top of Sony Pictures Entertainment caught many by surprise throughout Hollywood and at the Culver City studio, where the betting money had been on the ascension of Doug Belgrad.
Belgrad had been seen as a front-runner for the job, not only because he was Pascal’s top deputy but because the onetime securities analyst offered a combination of financial acumen and a steady management style that won him many allies, both on the lot and among the studio’s producing partners.
Belgrad has been with Sony for more than 25 years. Besides his management skills, he offered an additional plus, given recent tumult inside Sony: He rose to the studio’s top ranks without exhibiting the sort of explosive personality that ultimately doomed his predecessor and onetime boss, Amy Pascal, and that has sometimes been attributed to Rothman.
Also in the running to succeed Amy Pascal, the ousted head of the studio’s motion picture group, was Michael De Luca, a highly successful producer who helped create the “Austin Powers” and “Rush Hour” franchises, as well as critically acclaimed films like “The Social Network,” “Moneyball” and “Captain Phillips.”
Neither Belgrad nor De Luca, both 49, were mentioned in Sony’s initial announcement giving Rothman the chairman’s position.