UPDATE: Relativity Media officially filed for bankruptcy protection Thursday after laying off 75 staffers yesterday and extricating “Jane Got a Gun” from its slate. More titles, outlined below, are also up for grabs. Ryan Kavanaugh’s 11-year-old indie-studio-that-couldn’t will now be up for sale. Kavanugh proposes that the auction be supervised by bankruptcy court.
Though Relativity is reportedly selling a bulk of its film and TV units, it wants to hold onto divisions including Relativity Sports, Relativity EuropaCorp Distribution and Relativity Education. The company, which hopes to close a deal by early October 2015, is also chasing $45 million in financing to cover the cost of the Chapter 11 procedure.
Here’s Kavanaugh in a statement: “Relativity continues to pursue its mission as a next-generation global media company, and we remain firmly committed to our film and television businesses. The actions we are announcing today will protect our valuable franchise and allow us to emerge as a stronger, more focused company.”
Relativity apparently will also hold onto the comedy “Masterminds” and Halle Berry-starrer “Kidnap,” and still wants to shoot “The Crow” remake this Fall, even after star Jack Huston exited in June.
A court hearing is expected to take place in New York on Friday. Variety has more on the grisly details here.
EARLIER THURSDAY: “Jane Got a Gun” has now been pulled from Relativity as imminent Chapter 11 filing looms with help from financier and attorney David Boies. Will co-distributor TWC take on the film in full? That remains to be seen, though Deadline reports that backers have been screening the film for distributors and will do what needs to be done to get the film released in the first quarter of 2016.
WEDNESDAY: The long-struggling Relativity is on the ropes, as Ryan Kavanaugh finally reaches the limits of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Facing $320 million in debt and a rash of lawsuits of defaulted loans, the movie studio turned failed indie startup could enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy as early as Wednesday, spelling uncertain futures for a handful of its acquisitions and in-house projects.
TheWrap reports that Relativity is shopping beleaguered Western “Jane Got a Gun,” which stars Natalie Portman and went to director Gavin O’Connor after Lynne Ramsay flew the coop, as well as racy Sundance comedy “The Bronze” and Nicholas Hoult/Felicity Jones thriller “Collide” (formerly titled “Autobahn”).
The writing was on the wall last week when Sony sent Relativity a letter with intentions to terminate its joint distribution pact for “The Bronze,” which Relativity snapped out of Sundance for $3 million and shifted to October when a Summer 2015 release proved too costly.
On top of that, Relativity today has slashed 75 of its 350 employees, with reductions “expected to fall most heavily on Relativity’s ancillary fashion, education and digital units.” Distribution and marketing must continue on to service Relativity’s deal with EuropaCorp, and the television operation is returning some cash. More layoffs are expected this week as Chapter 11 becomes an all but sure reality.
As producers nervously shop their titles, Relativity is holding onto a pack of films as it bails out the boat: ensemble heist comedy “Masterminds” (October 9), starring Kristen Wiig and Owen Wilson, as well as in-house genre co-productions “Before I Wake” and “The Disappointments Room,” scheduled to hit this September.
The company initially inked a September 4 opening for “Jane Got a Gun,” but with the film a month away, the lack of a marketing game plan (where’s the trailer?) so far portends a definite push-back—and the swift death of awards hopes. Reportedly the film’s producer Regency Boies has appealed to joint distributor TWC’s Harvey Weinstein to “step in and take over full distribution of the film from Relativity.” No word on that front.
Kavanaugh bit off more than he could chew since founding his mini-major in 2004, with over $20 billion in investments yielding insufficient payoff, dismally performing partnerships and a swath of box office flops including this year’s “The Woman in Black 2” and “The Lazarus Effect.”
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh, 40, has reportedly sold his Malibu beachfront retreat to the tune of $8.75 million.