Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh On Tom Sherak

By | Thursday January 30, 2014 @ 7:49am PST
Mike Fleming

sherakAdd Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh to the chorus of industry heavyweights who owe a debt to Tom Sherak, who died this week. The film business basically shuts down part of today as they gather to pay tribute to the former AMPAS head.

Related: Hollywood Remembers Tom Sherak

An Open Letter from Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity:

I first met Tom Sherak when I was a student at UCLA. Tom taught a course called “Distribution 101.” I was fortunate enough to not only have him as my teacher, but for him to become my mentor. That first class led to what would become a lifelong friendship and an incredible source of personal encouragement and strength for me. I always knew that no matter what the issue or how seemingly unsurmountable the problem, Tom would be there to guide me. I deeply mourn his loss, but more importantly, celebrate his life.

This is an incredible man. Tom strived to make the world better, and we should honor and remember him for his life changing contributions to industry, medicine and philanthropy.

In an industry where adversity is too often the norm and where new ideas are often fought with vigor, Tom was a consistent voice for positive change. He relished in the success of others — not for personal financial gain but for the love of being a great mentor and friend. Tom’s spirit will continue to live on through the many people he guided, helped and loved. His contributions are immeasurable.

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Ryan Kavanaugh Aligns Relativity With Major League Gaming

By | Tuesday October 22, 2013 @ 7:42am PDT
Mike Fleming

Relativity Media‘s Ryan Kavanaugh has aligned with e-sports enterprise Major League Gaming and joined its board of directors. I am not sure where all this sports e-stuff is going, but it certainly bolsters Kavanaugh’s credentials if, for instance, he was vying to become commissioner of your fantasy football league. Actually, Relativity Sports has become one of Kavanaugh’s biggest business, repping over 300 athletes and growing. This alliance, he hopes, will allow him to marry his sports and content creation businesses.

Relativity and Major League Gaming (MLG), the global leader in eSports, today announced a strategic content and marketing partnership across sports management, television, film and digital media. In addition, Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO of Relativity, has joined the MLG Board of Directors, working with the MLG executive team to further the company’s position as a mainstream media property and breakout sport of the future.

The collaboration will accelerate MLG’s growth, drive appointment viewing and further strengthen Relativity’s presence in the gaming space through MLG’s deep engagement with the elusive young male audience. The two companies will work together in a variety of ways including:

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Mipcom: Relativity’s Ryan Kavanaugh On ‘Limitless’ Possibilities, Movies As Pilots, New Content Platform For Studio’s Output

By | Tuesday October 8, 2013 @ 10:12am PDT

Relativity Media founder and CEO Ryan Kavanaugh strode onto the main stage here at Mipcom today, providing a run-down of his business model versus the Hollywood studios’ “blockbuster or bust” mentality, declaring that Relativity’s just-announced Limitless TV series “could be one of the biggest shows that’s ever been”, and announcing his intention to build a digital TV Everywhere-style platform within the next 12 months.

Kavanaugh was in Cannes in support of Limitless and Act Of Valor, two new series based on the studio’s own films. Bradley Cooper is executive producing Limitless, which is part of Relativity’s expansion into scripted television. Kavanaugh said some very big stars were interested, adding “Who knows? (Cooper) may be in the first episode.” Relativity also just received a greenlight at National Geographic Channel for its first scripted series, drama Act Of Valor. The company’s unscripted portfolio already has 17 series currently on air including MTV hit Catfish, an offshoot from its documentary feature.

Related: Relativity Teams For Series Based On Film ‘Limitless’

Kavanaugh explained he had an “epiphany” about turning Relativity movies into TV shows after Catfish. Although the film was profitable, it was an underperformer by traditional measures. Yet, young people kept telling him how much they enjoyed it. “Based on what I was hearing, I went back to all of our underperformers” to look at their sell-thru, on demand and DVD numbers as well as the marketing and he realized that if a percentage of the films’ audience could be converted to TV, it would be a win. The same theory could be applied to films that had broader box office appeal, à la Limitless, he said. With 20 million-plus viewers already invested in the movie, “it was the biggest pilot of all time. No TV show has ever had this.” Read More »

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Harvey Weinstein & Ryan Kavanaugh Extortionist Gets 7 Years In Prison

By | Wednesday September 11, 2013 @ 4:30pm PDT

A little more than a year after he was arrested for threatening to kill members of the families of Harvey Weinstein and Ryan Kavanaugh unless he was paid millions, Vivek Shah today was given … Read More »

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Relativity Taps David Shane For Exec Veep Corporate Communications Post

By | Friday May 31, 2013 @ 10:10am PDT
Mike Fleming

David Shane has joined Relativity as EVP Corporate Communications. Shane will report directly to CEO Ryan Kavanaugh and president Tucker Tooley. He will be responsible for developing and directing the company’s communication strategy, overseeing media relations and serving as a communications adviser to the executive team. He will also partner with the company’s various divisions including film, television, sports, music, digital, home entertainment and international. Kavanaugh called Shane “a trusted adviser to the company and his creativity and strategic mindset will serve us well as Relativity continues to grow.” Read More »

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Relativity Responds To Variety’s Cover Claims

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 12:33pm PDT

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 »

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It’s Official: Ron Burkle Acquires “Significant” Equity Stake in Relativity

By | Monday January 23, 2012 @ 1:37pm PST

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.

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Relativity Media Begins Laying Off Staff

By | Thursday January 19, 2012 @ 9:07pm PST

EXCLUSIVE… UPDATE: I’ve just learned that Relativity Media has begun Relativity Media Layoffs 2012a 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 »

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Bloomberg: Ron Burkle Buying Relativity Media Stake From Elliott Management

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 »

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Ex-Relativity Media President Michael Joe Leaves Elliott

Mike Fleming

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.”

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More Relativity Turmoil: Biz Affairs Head Steve Hutensky Suddenly Exiting

By | Monday September 12, 2011 @ 3:25pm PDT

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 »

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Relativity Media Hiring James McTeigue On Period Crime Drama ‘Ness/Capone’

Mike Fleming

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 »

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Relativity Setting Business Venture In China

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 »

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Eminem-Antoine Fuqua Boxing Drama ‘Southpaw’ Dropped By DreamWorks But Still Seeking To Answer Bell

Mike Fleming

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 »

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TOLDJA! Lasse Halstrom To Direct ‘Safe Haven’ For Relativity

By | Thursday June 16, 2011 @ 12:31pm PDT
Mike Fleming

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.

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No ‘Crow’ Lawsuit: Weinstein Vs Relativity Sent To Arbitration Over Reboot And ‘Nine’

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 »

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Hossein Amini Doing Rewrite On ‘Snow White And The Huntsman’

Mike Fleming

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 »

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TOLDJA! Relativity Closes Big Acquisition Deal For Navy SEAL Movie ‘Act Of Valor’

Mike Fleming

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 »

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Wayne Kramer To Next Direct ‘Ecstasia’ For Relativity Media

Mike Fleming

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 »

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