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Ex-Relativity Exec, Obama And Kerry Fundraiser Jamie Denenberg Named Alpine Labs Partner, Chief Strategy Officer

By | Monday July 21, 2014 @ 3:44pm PDT

Ex-Relativity Exec, Obama And Kerry Fundraiser Jamie Denenberg Named Alpine Labs Partner, Chief Strategy OfficerJamie Denenberg, a veteran entertainment executive and prominent fundraiser for the presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Barack Obama, was named partner and Chief Strategy Officer at Alpine Labs, which creates film, TV and online content and was formerly known as Ketchum Labs. Alpine principals Kevin Abrams and Patrick Weir made the announcement today.

Denenberg was Kerry’s California finance director, raising tens of millions of dollars for his 2004 presidential campaign. She  also was an early “bundler,” pulling together contributions for Obama and organizing a number of “Young Hollywood” events for his 2008 campaign. Most recently, Denenberg was a partner in marketing company SA Entertainment. Before that, she led the creative content divisions at Relativity Media and Overture Films and worked for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
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Hot Trailer: ‘Hector And The Search For Happiness’

Hot Trailer: ‘Hector And The Search For Happiness’Relativity is releasing the Peter Chelsom-directed Hector And The Search For Happiness on September 19 in New York and LA with a select city rollout and expansion following. The studio acquired the comedy that’s based on Francis Lelord’s eponymous novel in a seven-figure deal in April this year. Maria von Heland, Chelsom and Tinker Lindsay penned the adaptation about an eccentric London psychiatrist who sets out on a global quest to discover what makes people happy. The international cast features Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Stellan Skarsgard, Jean Reno and Christopher Plummer. Here’s the latest international trailer for the pic that bows in the UK and Germany in mid-August:

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Relativity Nabs Sci-Fi Spec From ‘Cliffhanger’ Scribe Joe Gazzam

By | Friday July 11, 2014 @ 4:36pm PDT

Relativity Nabs Sci-Fi Spec From ‘Cliffhanger’ Scribe Joe GazzamEXCLUSIVE: Relativity has optioned an untitled sci-fi-tinged spec for development from screenwriter Joe Gazzam. It’s the latest score for Gazzam, who sold action-thriller Shadow Run to Sony in February and won the coveted gig writing Cliffhanger for Neal Moritz and StudioCanal in May. I’m hearing the sale came out of a competitive situation and closed this week. The log line is being kept under wraps but project is described as a Man On Fire-type story of a father and son, with a science fiction element. Producers are Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen, and Ahmet Zappa along with Devon Schiff. Gazzam is repped by Paradigm and Industry. Relativity’s upcoming slate includes The November Man in August, Nicholas Sparks romance The Best of Me in October, and Beyond the Lights in November.

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Relativity Prepares To Sell ArtistDirect

Relativity Prepares To Sell ArtistDirectRyan Kavanaugh‘s company is in late-stage discussions to sell the music information and download service to an undisclosed buyer for about $1M, I’m told. Relativity Digital is preparing to unload a collection of sites in the deal including artistdirect.com, musicandirect.net, ubl.com, ultimatemusic.com, and playlisted.com. The tiny price suggests how hard it’s been to stand out in a music market dominated by services including Apple’s iTunes, Pandora, and Spotify. Relativity bought ArtistDirect for well under $1M in January 2010, months after the music service delisted its stock. In its last annual report, ArtistDirect said it generated $12.1M in revenues in 2008 — but with nearly $48M in losses.

The sale comes amid other changes at Relativity Digital. On June 13, Randall Cox quietly left as president of the operation. He hasn’t been directly replaced; the unit is being overseen by the company’s new Chief Marketing Officer Angela Courtin. Relativity still intends to expand its presence in digital, a source at the company says. Earlier this year it offered about $1B in its privately held stock for online video power Maker Studios, which accepted a lower cash bid from Disney. It also made a run at multinetwork web video company Fullscreen.

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Relativity Names Angela Courtin Chief Marketing Officer

By | Wednesday July 2, 2014 @ 11:59am PDT

Relativity Names Angela Courtin Chief Marketing OfficerAngela Courtin has joined Relativity Media in the company’s newly created Chief Marketing Office role. Courtin will lead marketing, branding, digital, and ad efforts in film, TV, and sports departments. She’ll also oversee all branding and ad campaigns across the company. The new gig starts effective July with Courtin reporting directly to Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and President Tucker Tooley as Relativity moves into a quiet back half of 2014 starting with today’s opener Earth to Echo, followed by The November Man (Aug. 27), limited release Hector and the Search for Happiness (Sep. 19), Michelle Monaghan romance The Best of Me (Oct. 17) and drama Beyond the Lights (Nov. 14).

Courtin joins the company following the May exit of Dana Precious, who spent a year as President of creative advertising and research. Precious joined Relativity in 2013 with Russell Schwartz, replacing Terry Curtin. Read More »

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Relativity Pencils Jack Reynor Into Lineup As Star Of Biopic On Slugger Josh Hamilton

By | Wednesday June 25, 2014 @ 2:10pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Relativity Pencils Jack Reynor Into Lineup As Star Of Biopic On Slugger Josh HamiltonEXCLUSIVE: Casey Affleck has found a young star he hopes will play Josh Hamilton, the slugger who recovered from a drug descent to become a baseball superstar now clubbing homers for the Los Angeles Angels. After a lengthy search, the writer-director has set his sights on Jack Reynor, the What Richard Did star who’ll next be seen co-starring in this week’s tentpole release Transformers: Age Of Extinction.

Worldwide Premiere Of "Transformers: Age Of Extinction"In November 2012, Relativity acquired rights to Hamilton’s incredible life story for a feature film, closing a deal with Hamilton; the book he co-authored, Beyond Belief: Finding The Strength To Come Back; and with Affleck to write and direct. I am a sucker for those inspirational sports films, from The Blind Side to The Rookie and Brian’s Song, and there is certainly one to be made about rising from the depths of addiction. Hamilton overcame a crack cocaine addiction to become one of the most feared sluggers in baseball, something that seemed impossible when he was so rock bottom that his wife kicked him out of the house and he was relegated to cleaning toilets and mowing the grass at a baseball training facility. Read More »

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Jason Sudeikis To Play Hit Man In Jared Hess Heist Comedy

By | Wednesday June 25, 2014 @ 12:10pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Jason Sudeikis To Play Hit Man In Jared Hess Heist ComedyBREAKING… Jason Sudeikis is in talks to join Zach Galafianakis, Owen Wilson and Kristen Wiig in the Jared Hess-directed heist drama formerly known as Loomis Fargo, which is set up at Relativity Media. Sudeikis will play a hit man in the pic, which is based on an original screenplay by Emily Spivey and is getting a new title. The script is by Chris Bowman (The Wrong Brother) and Hubbel Palmer (Humble Pie). Relativity has worldwide rights to finance, produce and distribute, and the film will be produced by Lorne Michaels and John Goldwyn through their Michaels-Goldwyn banner. Danny McBride, Jody Hill,  Michael Aguilar and Kevin Messick will be exec producers alongside Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and president Tucker Tooley.

Loomis Fargo tells the fact-based story of a disgruntled armored car driver who is persuaded to risk it all for love, money, and extravagance. He and his cohorts liberate $20 million from a bank vault. They promptly double-cross him, and the driver’s left alone on the run in Mexico while they live the high life. He becomes obsessed with getting even. Read More »

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Relativity To Receive Investment From China’s SeedShine; Strikes New Dist’n Deal

relativityOn Friday, Deadline reported that Relativity Media is forming a joint partnership with Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp to develop, co-finance, co-produce and distribute film and TV projects for the Chinese and international marketplace. JSBC is making an equity investment in Relativity as part of the deal. Expanding on that, Relatvity announced today at the Shanghai International Film Festival that it has been appointed as the strategic international distribution partner for Chinese language films licensed by China Film Promotion International, a state-owned government agency that oversees the promotion and commercial distribution of Chinese films abroad. Ryan Kavanaugh’s company has also signed a strategic advisory agreement with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited via which investment firm SeedShine Capital has entered a binding agreement to invest in Relativity. Financial terms were not disclosed.

China-And-Hollywood__130605112955-150x150__130925193515__131105220131__140418151541Under the CFPI deal, Relativity will distribute select Chinese language films in the U.S. and help to promote them at various major overseas film festivals, receiving a distribution fee. While box office is growing at a breakneck pace in China, local films have had difficulty traveling. The first title that Relativity will release in the U.S. under the CFPI deal is expected to be Imperial Consort Yang. Now in production, the epic romance war drama is a love story involving Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty. Cheng Shiqing directs with Fan Bingbing, Leon … Read More »

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Relativity In China Joint Venture With Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp

By | Friday June 13, 2014 @ 9:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

rykavanaugh EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media is forming a joint partnership with Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp to develop, cofinance coproduce and distribute film and TV projects for the Chinese and international marketplace. JSBC is making an equity investment in Relativity as part of the deal, which will be unveiled shortly at the Shanghai International Film Festival. JSBC is a major media entity in China with TV, radio, newspaper, magazine and web platforms. The deal is expected to give Ryan Kavanaugh’s company a foothold in the burgeoning marketplace. Relativity made its first foray in China with SkyLand Entertainment, a film distribution and finance company located in Beijing that was hatched as a joint venture between Relativity, IDG China Media Fund and SAIF Partners.

“China is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets for every form of content, and Relativity has long been focused on expanding our footprint in this incredibly dynamic market. The partnership with JSBC…will further strengthen the robust foundation we have built in China,” said Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity. “By collaborating with JSBC, we will deepen our relationship with the Chinese media and entertainment industry and provide a world-class platform from which to co-develop Chinese and international film, television, and sports content with one of the preeminent media companies in China.”

Mr. Bu Yu, President of JSBC, said, “JSBC is delighted to make this investment into Relativity, one of the world’s most disruptive and fastest growing media companies. Combining our distribution and … Read More »

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‘Blood River’ Team Logs On To Script ‘Fear Followers’ For Relativity

By | Tuesday June 10, 2014 @ 8:22pm PDT

Adam Mason Fear Followers Simon Boyes Fear FollowersEXCLUSIVE: Writing team Adam Mason and Simon Boyes (Blood River) have been hired to write internet-themed horror pic Fear Followers for Relativity Media. The duo started out collaborating across the pond on the 2006 UK indie genre feature Broken and followed with The Devil’s Chair, Blood River, Luster, and Junkie, which Mason directed and co-scripted with Boyes. They will script based off a treatment by Jaime Primak Sullivan, who is also a co-producer. Per a source close to the project, film tracks four college students who run a blog for fear junkies called Fear Followers, relativitysearching for the scariest haunted houses in America. They become trapped in one house and must fight for survival while their followers watch live online. Mason and Boyes last year sold spec Equinox to Paramount Insurge and wrote Not Safe For Work for Blumhouse Productions, which Joe Johnston directed. Becky Sanderman is overseeing Fear Followers for Relativity. Mason and Boyes are repped by Bryan Brucks at Luber Roklin, WME, and George Davis.

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UPDATE: Relativity Shifts ‘Desert Dancer’ Release Date To 2015, Moves Up ‘Hector And The Search For Happiness’

By | Friday June 6, 2014 @ 4:27pm PDT

Relativity_newlogoUPDATE, 4:27 PM: Relativity also said it will platform release Hector And The Search For Happiness, the Peter Chelsom-directed pic that stars Simon Pegg, Toni Collette, Rosamund Pike, Stllan Skarsgard, Jean Reno and Christopher Plummer, to September 19 in NY and LA. It was  scheduled for a September 26 bow when the studio acquired the comedy for seven figures in April. The new plan is to roll out to select cities the week after and expand further on October 3.

Desert Dancer Release DatePREVIOUS, 12:30 PM: Relativity Media had set a summer 2014 limited bow for Desert Dancer, from helmer Richard Raymond and starring Reece Ritchie and Freida Pinto. Those plans have changed, with the studio today confirming it is moving the fact-based drama to a March 20, 2015, platform release, with expansion a week later. Read More »

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Relativity Taps Ex-Exclusive Media Exec Matt Brodlie As EVP Acquistions

By | Thursday June 5, 2014 @ 1:22pm PDT

Relativity_newlogoRelativity announced today that Matt Brodlie has joined the company as Executive Vice President, Acquisitions. Brodlie comes onboard as the company ramps up its acquisition slate and will report to Relativity President Tucker Tooley. Most recently, Brodlie started and ran the US distribution division of Exclusive Media, until recently a prolific production, financier and international sales company. Brodlie also headed acquisitions for the company, with an eye for pickups for international sales. Prior to that, Brodlie ran Paramount’s Worldwide Acquisitions Group, overseeing domestic and international acquisitions of both packaged and completed films.

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Relativity To Premiere ‘Earth To Echo’ At LA Film Festival

By | Tuesday May 20, 2014 @ 11:49am PDT

LAFF2014Relativity Media has found its launchpad for Earth To Echo, the long-in-the-works adventure film that it acquired from Disney last summer. The pic has been given a world premiere slot at the Los Angeles Film Festival, which will screen it June 14. The pic will be released wide July 2. Relativity acquired worldwide distribution rights last July to the pic, originally titled Echo and developed and shot by Disney, after producer EarthToEchoAndrew Panay brought it to Relativity president Tucker Tooley and production president Robbie Brenner. The story follows three friends (Teo Halm, Astro and Reese Hartwig) who begin getting weird coded messages on their cell phones and worry that something big is happening. No one pays them much mind, so they do some digging on their own and discover a mysterious being from another world who desperately needs their help. First-timer Dave Green directed from a script by Henry Gayden. (See the latest trailer below.) Read More »

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Cannes: EuropaCorp Signs $450M Credit Facility To Finance English-Language Pics

europa corpLuc Besson‘s EuropaCorp has signed with J.P. Morgan, SunTrust Bank and OneWest Bank on a five-year, $450M credit facility. The line, along with a $100M accordion, will be used to finance the studio’s existing credit facility of 105M euros. This is part of EuropaCorp’s plan to expand and will be used to finance a slate of English-language films to be released through its joint distribution venture with Relativity which was formed earlier this year. It will also fund Europacorp’s marketing spend on its projects. Plans are to go from releasing three to eight movies per year. The studio will also make four French-language pics per annum. Read More »

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Relativity Sets ‘Deception’ Helmer, ‘Passengers’ Scribe For Psychological Horror ‘Latitude’

By | Tuesday May 6, 2014 @ 3:10pm PDT

Relativity_newlogoEXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media has hired writer Ronnie Christensen (Passengers, Dark Tide) to script Latitude, which the studio is developing with Marcel Langenegger set to direct. The psychological horror film follows a family who is trapped on a haunted Japanese cargo vessel that’s been lost at sea after a tsunami. Relativity’s Daniel Herther is overseeing for the studio. Langengegger, who made his directorial debut with 2008′s Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor, and Michelle Williams starrer Deception, also produced 2012′s 3,2,1 … Frankie Go Boom. Christensen previously sold supernatural spec Incarnate to Blumhouse, which IM Global partnered on to finance. Langenegger is repped by CAA. Christensen is repped by Trevor Engelson and Josh McGuire at Underground and Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson and Binder.

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UPDATE: Maker Studios Rejects Relativity’s Acquisition Offer Saying It Has A Done Deal With Disney

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UPDATED: Maker says Relativity is too late. The online studio’s deal with Disney “has been approved by Maker Studios’ Board of Directors and the majority of its shareholders and is expected to close in the next few weeks, subject to regulatory approval.” Oh, it also notes that the effort to block he deal in court “was denied today by The Superior Court of California; County of Los Angeles, Central District.” Relativity responds that it “made a compelling offer” and will “continue to aggressively explore future opportunities that align with our strategy to accelerate digital content creation and distribution.”

PREVIOUS, 8:58 AM: Is $1B in stock from Relativity worth more than $950M in cash from Disney? That’s the proposition Relativity is offering online multichannel company Maker Studios today. It sent a letter of intent last night that it says “is superior to the current offer from Walt Disney” that the Maker board accepted last month. The plan developed with help from Jefferies and Barclays includes $500M in Relativity shares, $400M in stock when Maker hits “certain financial milestones,” plus $100M in stock to go to “key talent and executives” who also “are not existing stockholders of the Company.” Relativity says that both it and Maker “are natural partners” because both “share a commitment to challenging the status quo, Relativity_newlogobreaking down old models that don’t work and inventing new ones that do.” Disney believes that the deal it struck with Maker last month — $500M upfront and $450M with milestones — is binding, so we’ll see where this goes.

The proposal does not appear to be directly related to an effort by former Maker execs including co-founder Danny Zapplin to persuade the LA Superior Court to block the deal with Disney. The application for a temporary restraining order wants to put things on hold while the plaintiffs try to demonstrate that  current Maker execs are “skimming tens of millions of dollars for themselves by kicking back to the other stock adverse to the common shareholder.” Disney isn’t named as a defendant in the matter. Read More »

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UPDATE: Focus’ ‘Theory Of Everything’ Set For November; Relativity Dates ‘November Man’ For August; Disneynature’s ‘Monkey Kingdom’ Due In 2015

By | Thursday April 10, 2014 @ 3:40pm PDT

Focus Features logoEddie Redmayne stars as physicist Stephen Hawking in Theory Of Everything, which Focus Features has set for a platform release on Friday, November 7, 2014. It will then expand the following two weekends. The Working Title biopic directed by Man On Wire‘s James Marsh focuses on the relationship between Hawking and his wife Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), the arts student he fell in love with while studying at Cambridge in the 1960s. Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Charlie Cox, Simon McBurney, Maxine Peake and Harry Lloyd co-star and the script is by Anthony McCarten.

piercebrosnanRelativity Media said today it has dated the Pierce Brosnan spy thriller November Man for Wednesday, August 27, 2014. Olga Kurylenko and Luke Bracey co-star in the pic directed by Roger Donaldson based on Bill Granger’s novel There Are No Spies. The release date news comes a week after Relativity acquired U.S. distribution rights to the film, with a commitment to a wide release this year. Michael Finch and Karl Gajdusek wrote the screenplay, which centers on a former CIA operative who is brought back in on a very personal mission and is pitted against his former protégé in a deadly game involving high-level CIA officials and the Russian President-elect. Read More »

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Relativity Acquires ‘November Man’ As Pierce Brosnan Gets Back In Spy Mode

By | Wednesday April 2, 2014 @ 9:00am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Relativity has acquired U.S. distribution rights piercebrosnanto November Man, the Roger Donaldson-directed spy-thriller that stars Pierce Brosnan, Olga Kurylenko and Luke Bracey. It marks the second project for Relativity with Donaldson, who helmed the 2008 hit The Bank Job. Relativity has committed to a wide release later this year. The film is produced by Brosnan’s Irish DreamTime and Das Films, in association with The Solution Entertainment Group, Merced Media Partners and Palmstar Media Capital.

spiesThe thriller is an adaptation of the Bill Granger novel There Are No Spies, in which a former CIA operative who is brought back in on a very personal mission finds himself pitted against his former protégé in a deadly game involving high-level CIA officials and the Russian President-elect. The film is produced by Brosnan’s longtime partner Beau St. Clair and Sriram Das. Michael Finch & Karl Gajdusek wrote the script. Relativity president Tucker Tooley was at the center of the deal. Read More »

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U.S. Adaptation Of British Reality Format ‘Sex Box’ Gets Pilot Order At WE TV

By | Tuesday March 11, 2014 @ 12:13pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Sex BoxEXCLUSIVE: Provocative British reality format Sex Box is getting a U.S. adaptation. WE tv has ordered an hourlong pilot for the project from Relativity TV. In Sex Box, real couples whose relationships are on the rocks enter a soundproof box to have sex and, upon exit, immediately address their issues with a panel of experts. According to the producers, the “in the moment” approach “fosters conversations about intimacy that are completely filterless and emotionally honest.” This marks one of the first major wetvgreen lights for Marc Juris, who took the reins of WE in October as president. “Sex Box is an intriguing and original concept from a top production partner and we’re very excited about its potential, which has already been clearly demonstrated overseas – where it’s a hit,” he said.

Sex Box originated as a reality special on UK’s Channel 4 (watch it below) where it drew an overnight audience of 906,000 last October (1.2 million cumed) and attracted a lot of traditional media and social media attention. It was produced by Clearstory, with Relativity acquiring the rights and pitching it to U.S. networks. WE tv is coming off a solid first season for its newest series, SWV Reunited, which averaged 1.2 million viewers.

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