Relativity Media Files For Bankruptcy
Success and failure are relative terms.
Over the last several years, Relativity Media has produced and released some of Hollywood’s more adventurous genre films, including Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire, the Bradley Cooper brain-drug thriller Limitless, and the music melodrama Beyond the Lights. But they’ve yet to make an out-and-out blockbuster; per Box Office Mojo none of their 34 releases have ever broken $100 million in domestic grosses (2011’s Immortals came closest, with $83.5 million in the U.S.) and some of their flops have been extreme, like Machine Gun Preacher with Gerard Butler, which cost a reported $30 million and made less than $1 million domestically. Amidst mounting disappointments (and millions of dollars in unpaid loans) Relativity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier today, and will sell its film and television operations at auction.
Per Variety, the move could have major ramifications throughout Hollywood. Primarily, it throws into doubt the releases of several upcoming movies, including Masterminds, the comic heist movie starring Zach Galifianakis and Kristen Wiig, and Jane Got a Gun, the much-troubled Natalie Portman Western. When all is said and done those films could now wind up coming out from totally different distributors, Variety says Relativity intends to hang on to Masterminds and Kidnap (a Halle Berry thriller), but the rest of their upcoming slate, including Jane Got a Gun and Before I Wake, another thriller, will likely wind up elsewhere. Relativity also held the rights to some widely-discussed reboots, including the new version of The Crow that’s gone through several Crows (including Luke Evans and Jack Huston) without ever getting close to going into production.
That Variety article on the company’s rise and fall is worth reading, as it illuminates the challenges of running a mini-major studio in an increasingly competitive entertainment industry. It also paints a fascinating picture of CEO of Ryan Kavanaugh, who supposedly claimed “he could reduce the chances of a flop by analyzing computer analysis data about a film — including genre, director, actors and potential release dates.” Not shockingly, he appears to have been almost entirely wrong on that front, with far more failures or out-and-out disasters to the company’s credit than even modest successes (like the ’80s comedy Take Me Home Tonight with Topher Grace and Anna Faris that made less than $7 million in America). They also distributed Movie 43, which did have an insanely talented roster of actors and directors including Hugh Jackman, Richard Gere, Naomi Watts, Kate Winslet, Emma Stone, Halle Berry, Elizabeth Banks, and Peter Farrelly, but was also one of the most noxious movies released anywhere in the last decade.
Still, the company took chances and it employed lots of people, many of whom are already out of work. (75 people were laid off earlier this week.) When a big operation like this goes under, it makes other studios more conservative, and everyone suffers, from the people who are employed in the movie business, to the people who enjoy its products.