Veteran studio executive DeVon Franklin is leaving his position as senior VP of production at Columbia Pictures and segueing to a producing deal on the Sony lot, telling TheWrap that he is “going back to what drew me to the industry.”
A well-respected motivational speaker and Christian preacher, Franklin is also a published author who has been behind such inspirational faith-based hits as “Heaven Is for Real” and Sony’s family comedy “Jumping the Broom.” He got his start as an intern at Will Smith‘s Overbrook Entertainment, with whom he collaborated on “The Karate Kid,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Seven Pounds” and “Hancock.”
“Going back to being a kid, producing is what drew me to the industry. It’s been awesome learning how the studio system works but it’s all been preparation for this jump,” Franklin said. “Either you believe in yourself or you don’t and I definitely do, so now was the time to do the thing I’d always dreamed about.
Franklin believes that “entertainment absolutely has the power to heal,” and cited the increasing success of faith-based films and growing need for such content.
“There is a desire for more uplifting content, and content that can inspire and challenge people in a way that makes us think more about our purpose, more about our destiny, and more about our history,” he said. “When you look at what is happening in not just film, but TV as well, I think it’s because there’s a deep desire for a greater spectrum of entertainment.
“The numbers really show that people are out there and hungry for content that can do those things.”
Franklin thanked Sony executives for being so supportive of his personal ambitions and extracurricular pursuits outside of the studio.
“The beauty of being at the company is that they’ve allowed me to be me,” he said. “I’ve added value to the company and the goal is to continue to have that value in as many ways as I can. It’s the type of move that’ll help me grow and be a great extension of what I’m doing here.”
Franklin will bring his expertise to mainstream movies that aren’t necessarily faith-based as well. He’s joining Escape Artists as a producer on Sony’s “Masters of the Universe,” which is still searching for a director, and Dana Brunetti as a producer on the studio’s adaptation of popular video game “Gran Turismo.”
The producer, who grew up in East Oakland and is married to actress Meagan Good, said he will miss his colleagues at Sony as he embarks on the next chapter of his career. His departure was first reported by Nikki Finke on her website.