Respected distribution executive Erik Lomis was a consigliere to many: Tom Cruise, Ryan Coogler, Paul Thomas Anderson and Michael B. Jordan, among others.
On October 4, he will posthumously receive the Will Rogers Pioneer Award, which honors top Hollywood veterans for their leadership and service. The event will also serve as a tribute to the industry.
Lomis, who died suddenly in March at the age of 64, made hundreds of films during his career, including a host of Oscar candidates. He did several stints at MGM, where he became the James Bond whisperer and worked closely with 007 producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson. Lomis was in charge of the domestic release of the latest episode, No time to dieand successfully managed to postpone the film several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“His dedication to our films was boundless. He would do anything to make it a success,” say Wilson and Broccoli The Hollywood Reporter. “During the opening weekends, we were always greeted at dawn with phone calls from Erik, who had been working for hours to collect the numbers. We always knew he was in our corner and that he wanted us to win.”
The duo – who received the Pioneer Award at last year’s Lomis ceremony – added that his reactions to early parts of Bond films are their favorite memories of him. “His enthusiasm was so encouraging to us.”
Lomis also had a long stint at The Weinstein Co., where he built lasting relationships with top filmmakers, including Anderson and Coogler, who became breakout sensations with the release of 2013’s Fruitvale Station. Later, Lomis helped Coogler connect with one of Lomis’ old friends, Sylvester Stallone, when Coogler said he had an idea to revive the series. Rocky franchise. That idea would become popular Religion franchise (MGMs Confession of Faith IIIwhich Jordan directed was the last film Lomis released).
“Erik loved what he did and he went above and beyond,” said his wife, Patricia Laucella, chief corporate officer at Lionsgate. “He always helped others. He was a true mentor and far more generous with his time than anyone else.”
It was not unusual for filmmakers, producers and stars to call Lomis for advice, even if he was not directly involved in a film’s release. A longtime fan was Cruise, who worked with Lomis when they were both at United Artists (they traveled the world together to promote the 2008 releases). Valkyrie).
“Erik was such a force and a true pioneer in the theater world,” said Jennifer Salke, head of MGM Studios.
Ahead of the Oct. 4 tribute, Pamela Abdy and Michael De Luca, who worked with Lomis at MGM before leaving to join Warner Bros., spoke. Pictures to run, with THR about the man behind the legend.
What made Erik so unique?
MICHEL DE LUCA He always spoke from the heart and had a tremendous spirit. He let you know exactly how he felt, in the bluntest language possible. When Pam and I lost projects to streamers during the pandemic because we couldn’t compete on listings, Erik asked what happened and we told him. He said, ‘Those damn streamers! I don’t care what anyone says, they’re TV movies.
What was it about him that filmmakers were drawn to?
PAMELA ABDY He wasn’t just a distribution executive, he was a film buff, he loved cinema. He told stories about how he started as an usher and how his father worked in the theater world.
DE LUCA Talent is always about your availability, transparency and honesty, no matter how the film does. A filmmaker doesn’t want you to cover up anything or withhold information. Erik received a five-star rating on all fronts.
What was your opening weekend ritual?
ABDY We were supposed to have a Zoom call with Erik at 7:00 am. He was already awake and couldn’t wait to talk.
Speaking of stressful, MGM had to postpone No time to die many times before its release in US theaters in October 2021. Was there a point where it seemed hopeless?
ABDY Erik remained calm throughout the entire process.
DE LUCA There is only one James Bond, and no one wanted to make a bad decision. We were the first studio to move a major title due to COVID, so it wasn’t an easy decision. But Erik stood up and said, ‘We have to move. I’ll talk to the exhibit, and we’ll be fine.” And it was. Because he was so trusted, he could be the tip of the spear.
What is Erik’s lasting contribution?
DE LUCA We met him at a time when it was not yet certain that theatricals would have a future. There were a lot of naysayers, but he never lost confidence. He never gave up. He would say that the need, or desire, to experience a story communally is not going anywhere. In retrospect, he was right.
Have you ever been concerned about his brash humor?
DE LUCA No.
ABDY He was an original. By the way, he kept calling me ‘little boy’. I was 100 percent in favor of it. We just love him, miss him and think about him all the time.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
A version of this story first appeared in the September 27 issue The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.