At a time when the big studios are more fearful than ever of making mistakes, it’s the production companies funded by outside investors who are in a position to take chances, from Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media (“Lincoln”), Thomas Tull’s Legendary Entertainment, now moving from Warner Bros. to Universal (“Pacific Rim”), Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Master,” “American Hustle”) to Gigi Pritzker’s OddLot Entertainment, which backed Fox Searchlight’s summer hit “The Way, Way Back” and Lionsgate/Summit’s upcoming $110-million sci-fi thriller “Ender’s Game” (November 1).
Chicago-based Hyatt Hotel heiress Pritzker, 50, has hired some experienced talent to run her company–Sony and MGM veteran Michael Nathanson, who wanted to invest in “Ender’s Game” and ended up working at OddLot instead, and First Look Studios’ Bill Lischak. In a move that signals an increase in production and development, OddLot is now adding Red Wagon creative executive Rachel Shane to their development team as Executive VP of Production.
Founded in 2005, OddLot so far boasts about a dozen employees who are housed in an airy Culver City office near the Sony studio. Worth an estimated $1.9 billion, Pritzker had produced several films (“Simple Justice,” “The Spirit”) that did not fly before starting OddLot, which backed critically praised “Rabbit Hole” (2010) and Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive” (2011). The company has made deals with Robert Rodriguez (“Machete”) and Tom McCarthy (“The Visitor”) and has invested in foreign film sales company Sierra/Affinity as well as Cinetic Media, John Sloss’s New York indie sales and distribution entity.
OddLot partnered with VFX company Digital Domain in raising the budget of “Ender’s Game,” most of which was covered by advance foreign sales. Summit came through with the rest.
Shane worked as Executive VP of Production for Red Wagon Entertainment on such films as “The Great Gatsby” and “Lawless,” as well as the upcoming “Divergent” and “Gorgeous,” the young adult novel adaptation set up at Lionsgate, as well as”Taped” at Sony. Shane started at Red Wagon as a creative exec in 2000. Prior to joining Red Wagon, Shane worked at Tall Trees Productions, Imagine Entertainment and Televisa.
Coming up from OddLot is Ivan Reitman’s “Draft Day,” starring Kevin Costner (Lionsgate/Summit) and Jon Stewart’s upcoming directorial debut “Rosewater.”