Variety normally delivers between 3-6 copies of its print edition to Relativity Media. On Tuesday morning the trade hand-delivered 50 copies of the weekly with its “Debt Of A Salesman” cover story about the company to Relativity’s offices. Immediately Relativity insiders criticized the move to me as ”a desperate move for attention” for ”a highly speculative story with an uninformed premise”. Hey, this is progress. The last time a media outlet wrote about Relativity in any depth — Ron Burkle Talks Ryan Kavanaugh To The New Yorker — Relativity’s lawyer demanded the article’s retraction and removal from the website. I’m told no legal letter went out this time around — just company spin. Is this a kinder gentler Ryan Kavanaugh under investor Ron Burkle’s tutelage? Well, a less confrontational CEO trying to stay out of the press.
That said, here is Relativity’s on-the-record statement from a company spokesperson to me about Variety’s published gaze into a crystal ball speculating about Relativity’s debt repayment prospects over the next 5-7 years: “Variety invented a fundamentally flawed thesis and then tried as hard as they could to prove it. Unfortunately the best that they could come up with over four pages was one generic quote from a banking analyst and a silly attempt to predict the unpredictable — what may or may not happen in 2018.”
Off the record, a source close to Relativity complains: “Variety bases its piece on $100M of debt that Relativity has to repay over 5-7 years. Has Variety ever heard of refinancing? They don’t understand corporate finance. Most highly successful companies use debt financing as part of their growth strategy. And the only on-the-record quote in a four-page story is from a mid-tier analyst from RBC Capital. Is this the new, harder-hitting Variety? If so, they’ve failed miserably.” READ MORE »
Report: Ron Burkle Buying Relativity Stake From Elliott Management
Ex-Relativity Media President Michael Joe Leaves Elliott
(West Hollywood, California) January 23, 2012 – Yucaipa Companies, a premier investment firm owned and run by Ron Burkle, today announced that it has purchased a significant equity stake in Relativity Media, a full-fledged film distribution company, television production company, sports agency, Internet and interactive media company. Yucapia’s equity investment follows the successful close of debt financings led by Colbeck Capital, a strategic lender run by Jason Colodne and Jason Beckman, and funded by Burkle.
This investment comes on the heels of the studio’s first year as a full-fledged distribution company. During the past 12 months, the studio has had unprecedented success with two number one opening films; marking Relativity as the only mini-major to achieve such a milestone. It is one of the few mini-majors to have had two films exceed 30 million dollars in domestic box office in their opening weekend.
Over the past year the studio has enjoyed the success of films such as Limitless, The Fighter and most recently Immortals, which has just broken $230 million in worldwide box office receipts, the highest R-rated action opening weekend in 2011, and the third highest opening weekend for 2011 R-rated films.
Read More »
EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: I’ve just learned that Relativity Media has begun a process of laying off staffers from the operations and marketing teams. All 10 affected employees were told today. Relativity Media has a total workforce of … Read More »
Burkle’s Yucaipa Buys Music Booking Power Artist Group International
Ex-Relativity Media President Michael Joe Leaves Elliott
Bloomberg is reporting that billionaire Ron Burkle has agreed to buy Elliott Management Corp’s minority stake in Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media, citing two people with knowledge of the … Read More »
Relativity Media’s key backer Elliott Management Corporation has announced the departure of Michael Joe, the former president of Relativity who was plucked from that post by Elliott to watch its investments with Ryan Kavanaugh. Joe had little to do because Elliott has stopped future funding of entertainment industry ventures. How this factors into the future of Relativity Media and Elliott remains to be seen. Here is the announcement:
New York, NY (January 4, 2012) — Elliott Management Corporation and Michael Joe announced today that, in early 2012, he will be leaving the firm to pursue a new opportunity. In his most recent role, Mr. Joe helped oversee Elliott’s investment in Relativity Media and Elliott’s slate financing deal with Universal. Prior to arriving at Elliott, Mr. Joe was President of Relativity Media.
“I cannot think of a better environment to have profoundly expanded my knowledge and understanding of the private fund management business,” said Michael Joe. “However, it became increasingly apparent that on a personal and professional level, my passion is to be an active participant within the media and entertainment industry. I am grateful to the Elliott team and wish them the best in their future endeavors.”
Read More »
EXCLUSIVE… UPDATED: Sources are telling me that Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media suddenly is exiting this excellent piece of manpower in a decision made over the weekend. But Relativity Media insiders claim ”his deal was up and options were being weighed” … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: James McTeigue, who just completed the John Cusack-starrer The Raven for Relativity Media, is getting back in business with Ryan Kavanaugh. I’m told that McTeigue is making a deal to direct Ness/Capone, the Grant Pierce Myers script that … Read More »
Yet another case of Hollywood hopping on the China film market bandwagon. Here is the announcement Monday Beijing time: Huaxia Film Distribution Co, Relativity Media, and SkyLand (Beijing) Film-Television Culture Development Ltd jointly announced a strategic partnership. Huaxia Film’s Executive Chairman Guoqing Gu, Relativity Media’s founder and CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, SAIF Partners’ Managing Partner Andy Yan, and IDG China Media’s Founding Partner Hugo Shong attended the press conference. Three parties — Relativity, SAIF, and IDG – also announced the formation of the first China/U.S. distribution company Sky Land Entertainment. Huaxia is one of the biggest movie production and distribution companies in China, releasing more films there than almost any other company. Sky Land has been prominent in the production, financing and distribution of Chinese content films in the past few years.
Said Kavanaugh: ”We’re excited to be entering into this ground breaking partnership. With 6 new screens added daily in China and a business which has been tripling in revenue every 3 years, Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has thrown in the towel on Southpaw, the boxing drama that has Eminem returning to the screen for the first time since 2002′s 8 Mile, and Antoine Fuqua directing a script by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. The plan was to start in January. DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider, who worked closely with Eminem and his team on 8 Mile while she ran Universal, basically gave the project back to the filmmakers to set up elsewhere and that’s what they are trying to do. Maybe DreamWorks was concerned the market is crowded with brawler films after The Fighter and the upcoming Gavin O’Connor-directed mixed martial arts drama Warrior, or maybe the studio’s cautious after its big bet on Cowboys & Aliens didn’t pay off. (I’m sure it’s coincidence that Snider once unplugged the Fuqua-directed version of American Gangster before putting the picture back together with Ridley Scott). But given the appetite of a crop of distributors looking for wide release product, I’d be surprised if this one, which is fully packaged, doesn’t get off the canvas quickly. Read More »
Back at the first of the month Deadline scooped that Lasse Halstrom was in talks with Relativity Media to direct the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel Safe Haven, which Relativity picked up in a heated auction last summer, and that a deal would happen quickly. Well, now Relativity is making it official. As I said before, it was a good bet for the matchup as Hallstrom directed the adaptation of the Sparks novel Dear John, which Relativity boss Ryan Kavanaugh financed. Today’s release:
Beverly Hills, CA (June 16, 2011) – Relativity Media has closed a deal with Oscar® and DGA-nominee Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Dear John) to direct their upcoming film Safe Haven, based on the latest novel from best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, announced Relativity’s President of Worldwide Production Tucker Tooley. The film is scheduled to head into production this year.
Sparks’ previous books have been made into such hit films as The Notebook, The Last Song, Nights in Rodanthe and Dear John. His latest, Safe Haven, is a gripping love story infused with suspense and discovery. When a young woman escaping her past moves to a small North Carolina town, and falls for a loving widowed father, he heals her heart, and helps her escape the danger that threatens her.
Read More »
No decision yet on the merits of either side’s legal argument. But Relativity Media prevailed over The Weinstein Company in court today, according to Relativity’s legal representation. “The Court agreed with Relativity that TWC’s lawsuit against Relativity was improper … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Bracing for its race against Relativity Media on rival Snow White films, Universal Pictures has hired Hossein Amini to do a rewrite of Snow White and the Huntsman, the Rupert Sanders-directed film that stars Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and … Read More »
UPDATE: Relativity Media has closed its deal for Act of Valor, as Deadline revealed earlier today. Press release is below our original break on the deal. Relativity has dated the film for 2012, so I suspect it … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media has optioned Ecstasia, a futuristic drama that was written and will be directed by The Cooler helmer Wayne Kramer. Kramer became available after he exited the Sylvester Stallone-starrer Headshot, and he expects this to be his next … Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: Relativity Media is in talks with Lasse Hallstrom to direct its adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel Safe Haven. I’m told that a deal will likely happen quickly. It’s not surprising that Ryan Kavanaugh would turn to Hallstrom to helm the adaptation of a book that Relativity paid around $2 million against $5 million to acquire in a heated auction last summer. Hallstrom directed the adaptation of the Sparks novel Dear John, a film that Kavanaugh financed.
The move also re-teams Hallstrom with Temple Hill partners Marty Bowen and Wyck Godfrey, who produced Dear John, a film that was well received and grossed $110 million worldwide with Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried starring. Relativity Media acquired Safe Haven with a ticking clock — basically a nine-month window to develop the script, or the book would go back to Sparks and he’d keep the upfront payment. They got Dana Stevens to write a script, and they certainly met the deadline, as they are already looking at cast for a fall start date. Bowen and Godfrey are producing and so is Kavanaugh. In Safe Haven, a young North Carolina woman is determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships. As she begins to fall in love, she struggles with a dark secret that still haunts and terrifies her. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: I fear that Ryan Kavanaugh is having a nervous breakdown. I’ve just confirmed with Elliott Associates that their stake in his Relativity Media is not for sale. ”Elliott is not selling. They are not shopping,” the investment group told me exclusively just now as an update their reining in Relativity. Interesting that Ryan today has gone public about buying something that is not for sale. I have learned that Kavanaugh does have a call option where he can buy Elliott’s stake but the investment group would have to agree and it would tack on a sizeable premium making the purchase price “a huge amount of money”, insiders tell me. And no one sane would bankroll him to do that.
Also, I’m told not to believe any of the dollar amounts Kavanaugh is claiming about Elliott’s stake in his company “because they’re off the wall”. Indeed, Kavanaugh himself over the past year has alternately confirmed and denied just to me that Elliott has invested $1.2 billion in Relativity and also a number half that. Which is why trying to speak to Ryan is always such a frustrating experience for myself and the other business press: he rarely tells the truth about anything involving his company. Instead, Kavanaugh today went to the last naive journalist who’ll believe his nonsense (that is, in addition to Variety which just tributed him) and pretended he was taking charge of his company and jettisonning Elliott. ”He doesn’t like that they are taking a more active role and that [former Relativity Media President] Michael Joe is now the Elliott person that works with Relativity,” my insider explains. “Ryan keeps telling Elliott in 20-30 emails that because of what they did he can’t get any business done.” Read More »
BREAKING: Relativity Media has struck back in the ongoing competition of Snow White movies. Ryan Kavanaugh’s film shingle has pushed up its untitled Snow White project to March 16, 2012, from June 29. This comes days after Universal moved Snow White and the Huntsman up six months to June 1. I’m not sure that Uni can push forward any further. After all, you have to make the movie before you can release it. Relativity’s movie has Tarsem Singh directing Julia Roberts, Lily Collins and Armie Hammer, while Universal has Rupert Sanders directing Charlize Theron, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth. Will both of these pictures actually make it into production under such high stakes? It sure looks that way. The one saving grace is that Universal’s film has a darker Alice in Wonderland tone, while Relativity’s seems to be an unabashed family film.
This is just one of three pictures that Relativity has dated in moves that seem to be geared directly toward this competition against Universal, the studio with which Kavanaugh had a long slate-financing relationship. Read More »
The late Elizabeth Taylor was fondly remembered during a tribute Thursday night at the ultra-glamorous annual amFAR Cinema Against AIDS event (now in its 18th year) at Hotel Du Cap. The event co-chaired by Kenneth Cole and Harvey Weinstein broke all records, bringing in a haul of more than $10 million after an auction that also saw record prices. In clips from movies like Cleopatra and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, along with footage from her work for the organization in which she was the founding international chairman and host of the first event in 1993 Cole saluted Taylor as someone who “spoke up when others wouldn’t and said things when others can’t. I hope this will always be part of her legacy.” Weinstein added, “It was an honor to work beside her and it was an honor to watch her movies.”
Continuing the Taylor theme of the evening, two “Elizabeth” items went for big bucks in the annual auction that is always a part of this glitzy dinner, thrown near the end of each Cannes Film Festival since ’93. A limited-edition Herb Ritts photo of Taylor taken in Malibu in 1991 fetched a whopping $150,000, while an Andy Warhol dated lithograph of Liz circa 1964 fetched $400,000.
Among the stars taking part in the evening and auction were Janet Jackson, Brooke Shields, Freida Pinto, Kanye West, Rosario Dawson, Naomi Campbell, Gwen Stefani, Gavin Rossdale, Patrick Dempsey, Milla Jovovich (who opened the proceedings with a sultry “I Wanna Be Loved By You”), Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn and Sean Penn. Penn, bringing up the rear, got big laughs demanding women abstain from sex unless their men cough up $10,000 apiece in order to break the record amount for the fundraiser. Twenty-one of them did just that. Boy George performed a couple of songs, too. Among those in the crowd were three Cannes jury members including president Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman (who also participated in the auction) and Jude Law, along with Melancholia star Kirsten Dunst, who looked happy not to have Lars von Trier as her date. Read More »
EXCLUSIVE: The Weinstein Company, already on a Cannes acquisition spree, has emerged as the clear frontrunner for domestic distribution rights on The Wettest County in the World, after another all-night bargaining session between Harvey Weinstein’s acquisition team and CAA. I’m … Read More »