If a filmmaker were to pitch a project based on legendary movie producer Mike Medavoy’s life, it’s highly likely he or she would be unceremoniously tossed out onto the pavement, chased by a scoffing dismissal that the story was ridiculously unbelievable. But Medavoy’s journey, rife with new beginnings and reinvention, is a real-life, inspiring testament to hard work, perseverance, and an indomitable spirit. During Mr. Medavoy’s illustrious career, he has been involved in over 300 movies, seven of which received Best Picture Oscars, while sixteen others received same category nominations. Among these are some of the most memorable films in the history of cinema: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Rocky, Annie Hall, Amadeus, Raging Bull, Platoon, RoboCop, Amadeus, Black Stallion, The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Silence of the Lambs, Sleepless In Seattle, The Thin Red Line, Shutter Island and Black Swan.
Born in Shanghai, China, to Russian-Jewish émigrés escaping the pogroms of the1920s, Medavoy learned valuable lessons as an outsider, first in Shanghai, then in Santiago, Chile, where his family resettled following Mao Tse-Dung’s rise to power in China. Starting from scratch in South America and later in the U.S., learning new languages and cultures, Medavoy had to work harder and smarter to achieve his goals. Led by his parents’ example, his subsequent success in the ruthless movie business world was no fluke.
After graduating from UCLA he landed his first industry job in Universal’s mailroom, but it wasn’t long before he rapidly moved up the ladder. He became Creative Management VP of motion pictures where he collaborated with Steve Spielberg and Francis Ford Coppola. In 1974, United Artists named Medavoy Senior VP of Production. In 1978, Medavoy co-founded Orion Pictures. In 1990, Medavoy became chairman of TriStar Pictures. In 1995, Medavoy co-founded Phoenix Pictures and continues as its chairman and CEO.
Courage, sacrifice, and integrity are trademark themes in Medavoy’s films. Underscoring these recurring motifs is the highly anticipated 2015 release of The 33, a cinematic depiction of the 2010 Chilean mining disaster, where 33 men were trapped for 69 days before being rescued. Judging from Medavoy’s past efforts and his passion for this particular project, viewers can rest assured they’ll be in for both a thrilling, suspenseful ride, as well as a heartfelt exploration of the human spirit. - Peter Crane