Peter Guber is one of the most successful and powerful producers and executives in Hollywood. He graduated from the University of Syracuse and then attended the University of Florence before earning an MA in business administration and a law degree at NYU. Soon after graduation in 1968, he was hired by Columbia Pictures for an entry-level executive position. Within four years he had become the head of worldwide production there, a position he held for three years. With his steady hand, and astute judgment regarding hit films such as The Way We Were and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the heretofore financially shaky company began to thrive. In 1976, he left to found Peter Guber's Filmworks and to work as an independent producer; soon he merged his company with another and produced his first film The Deep (1977). Though the film was considered a critical bomb, Guber's creative marketing helped make it a box-office success. In 1980, Guber became partners with hairdresser-turned-producer Jon Peters. After considerable wheeling and dealing with his production companies, Guber and his new partner founded the Guber-Peters company in 1983. The pair soon became one of the shrewdest, most effective teams in the industry, unafraid to take big risks that often resulted in giant box-office hits such as Flashdance (1983), The Color Purple, Rainman (both 1988), and Batman (1989). In 1988, they merged their company to form Guber-Peters- Barris Entertainment. The two were involved in a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers when Columbia Pictures was purchased from Coca Cola by the Sony Corporation for $3.5 billion at the end of 1989. Sony then paid Guber and Peters close to a billion dollars in fees and perks; in addition Sony also provided them millions of dollars to cover their operating costs.