'Flyboys' pic takes wing with investor

On the growing list of outside financing entities handing over big bucks for Hollywood movies, there’s a new name: Larry Ellison.

Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle Corp., who’s worth around $18 billion (he’s the ninth richest person in the world), put up about 40% of the $60 million budget on Dean Devlin’s upcoming pic “Flyboys,” which will be released in September by MGM.

Pic is the first of three that Devlin and his Electric Entertainment shingle is releasing through the newly revived Lion in his non-exclusive deal with the studio. The other pics are “Isobar,” a project whose journey began 16 years ago at Carolco, and “Ghosting,” which will be Devlin’s directorial debut.

At this point, there’s no indication that Ellison will be Hollywood’s new Steve Bing. “Flyboys” was a unique opportunity and Ellison’s involvement in the film — which is about young American fighter pilots during WWI — was largely spurred by his son David, one of the country’s top-ranked acrobatic pilots, who has a starring role in the film.

“Larry and his son are both big aviator enthusiasts, and David originally came in to be a financier on the film, but (director) Tony Bill said he’d only agree if he’d be in the picture,” Devlin told Daily Variety.

“He was very uptight about the idea at first, because he was convinced that people would think it was why he got involved in the first place,” Devlin said. “But Tony assured him that he’d worked with a lot of first-time actors, and he didn’t know where else he was going to find an actor who knew what it was like to do wild tricks in the air. He wanted that realism.

“Any time you get that percentage of a budget, it helps. We’d had financing come together on the film two other times, but at the last minute a piece would fall out. In independent film, you’re always cobbling things together.”

Ellison is not financially involved in either “Isobar” or “Ghosting,” however.

Devlin’s next pic after “Flyboys” and “Who Killed the Electric Car,” which he produced and which is being released by Sony Pictures Classics later this month, is “Isobar,” which Devlin hopes to start shooting at the end of the year.

The sci-fi adventure was originally written by Devlin and Roland Emmerich in 1990 and was set up at Carolco. When that company went bankrupt, the pic followed Devlin to Sony. Now it’s jumping to MGM.

Then Devlin will turn to “Ghosting,” an f/x-driven action thriller about a disabled police officer who works with investigators using a technique that allows them to temporarily leave the world of the living and conduct investigations on the other side. Shooting is tentatively skedded for March.

All the films will be produced by Devlin and his Electric Entertainment inhouse partners Kearie Peak and Marc Roskin.

For all three films, Devlin will raise his own P&A funds and bring his own marketing consultants to work on the films’ marketing with MGM.

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