Laura Dern in Wild at Heart (Credit: The Samuel Goldwyn company)

Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, Tom Rothman, is a studio head who actually loves movies. When he was the big cheese at 20th Century Fox, he hosted Fox Legacy and celebrated classics from the studios’ past. (A good show, by the way.) Now, he’s celebrating 100 years of Columbia Pictures at the Cannes Film Festival, where he reflected on premiering David Lynch‘s Wild at Heart at the fest.

Rothman considers the premiere of the seedy fairy tale a highlight of his career. “Back in the days when indies were indies and I was running the Samuel Goldwyn Company, we brought David Lynch’s Wild at Heart,” Rothman told Deadline. “It was thought that movie was too outrageous, scandalous. And we took the risk and put the movie in Cannes with everyone saying it was going to be the death of us, right? And the opposite happened. I remember being in the theater at the end, through the standing ovations. This was long before they timed them. That movie went on to win the Palme d’Or, an incredible feat, an incredible reversal, and a great moment for David Lynch and our little company.”

Throughout Rothman’s career, he’s taken some serious swings with auteurs. Remember, he’s the only reason Peter Weir’s Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World exists in the universe. When the Sony head honcho first attended Cannes, he was there supporting another beloved auteur, Mr. Jim Jarmusch.

Shortly before Rothman criticized the billions studios are losing on their streaming platforms, he told a lesson of gratitude he learned at the Down by Law premiere. “That was a Jim Jarmusch film I co-produced called Down by Law,” Rothman said. “David Picker, who was a great mentor of mine, gave me advice I still follow to this day. When you walk up the steps to the Palais, you get to the top of the steps and they will try to push you into the theater. Don’t do it. Stop, turn around and look. What you’ll see is the red carpet and a beautiful Mediterranean sunset and hundreds of film lovers all around. The movie won’t have screened yet, the reviews won’t be in yet, but you will have worked really, really hard to get to that moment, and that place. And you need to stop for a minute and look. It’s what would be referred to today as practicing gratitude and appreciating the privilege and the thrill of a life in the movie business. And I did that that night, and I’ve done it every night since when I’ve been there.”

Miles Kelley

Miles Kelly is a part-time writer, full-time worrier. He has years of copywriting experience in the entertainment industry under his belt. Miles thanks you for reading his news posts and occasional features.