Relativity Timeline: 10 Years of High Hopes and Low Returns

Relativity was founded with the intention of starting a new studio from scratch using data to mitigate risks and maximize profits. From launching its own domestic distribution operation on the back of failed Overture Films to making deals in China, here are some of the pitstops on the road to declaring bankruptcy on Thursday.

2004: Ryan Kavanaugh and Lynwood Spinks found Relativity, arranging slate deals with studios.

2005: The renamed Relativity Media announces a $528 million pact to co-finance six movies with Warner Bros.

2006: Relativity’s Gun Hill Road I fund co-finances 17 movies with Sony and Universal including “The Pursuit of Happyness” (above) and “Nanny McPhee”; Gun Hill II co-funds 18 films with Sony and Universal, including “Evan Almighty” and “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.”

2008: Hedge fund Elliott Management makes a $1 billion investment in Relativity.

2009: Relativity buys genre label Rogue Pictures from Universal for $150 million; sets multi-year distribution pact with Lionsgate.

2010: The company acquires the Chris McGurk-run Overture Films from Starz and expands into distribution; it inks an exclusive deal with Netflix to stream its first-run theatrical releases ahead of pay cable.

August 2011: Relativity launches SkyLand Entertainment in partnership with Huaxia Film Distribution Co. and SkyLand to distribute pics in China.

November 2011: Relativity opens what will be its top-grossing film, “Immortals,” to a $32.2 million weekend on its way to a $83.5 million domestic total.

2012: Ron Burkle buys most of Elliott’s stake in Relativity through his Yucaipa Cos.; Relativity and Yucaipa launch Relativity Sports agency to rep athletes.

2013: Relativity closes $115 million revolving line of credit with OneWest Bank and Barclays, with plans to expand the line to $300 million.

February 2014: Relativity forms a six-year U.S. distribution and marketing joint venture with Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp, which invests $80 million in the endeavor.

June 2014: Relativity and Jiangsu Broadcasting Corp. announce a partnership to develop, co-finance, co-produce and distribute content in China and worldwide

October 2014: Financier Steven Mnuchin named Relativity co-chairman; his Dune Capital buys part of Elliott’s remaining stake.

January 2015: In the first deal made at the Sundance Film Festival, Relativity pays approximately $3 million for U.S. rights to raunchy comedy “The Bronze,” starring Melissa Rauch.

April 2015: Kavanaugh announces the company has $250 million in funding from VII Peaks Capital, which is not a regular player in Hollywood.

May 2015: Reports surface that investor Colbeck Capital presses Relativity for its failure to make a debt payment; Kavanaugh accuses the investors of spreading false rumors.

June 2015: Lenders agree to extend a May 31 deadline for the debt payment.

July 2015: “Before I Wake” “The Bronze” (above) and “Masterminds,” “Kidnap,” and “Hillsong” releases are delayed due to a lack of funds; lender RKA Film Financing sues Relativity, alleging fraud (Relativity countersues); bankruptcy looms.

 

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