It’s been nearly seven weeks since Relativity Studios made headlines announcing that actor Kevin Spacey and his producing partner Dana Brunetti were coming aboard to help salvage the beleaguered studio.
But as of this writing the duo has yet to sign the deal, which a U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge has demanded to see, along with proof from Relativity that it has secured new financing, before he approves the company’s emergence from Chapter 11. At this stage, Judge Michael Wiles has only conditionally blessed Relativity’s exit from bankruptcy.
Meanwhile, Spacey and Brunetti have so many projects on their plates, it’s hard to know how they’d even have the time to focus on cobbling together a new slate of movies for Relativity.
While Relativity waits to emerge from Chapter 11, the two are plunging forward with a series of film and television projects not directly associated with the movie company they hope to run.
Both are on set in Washington, D.C., this week, working on the next season of Netflix’s “House of Cards,” which has landed Spacey several Emmy nominations. Brunetti is also continuing to produce for Universal Pictures the upcoming sequels to “Fifty Shades of Grey” — “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” — alongside his close pal Michael De Luca.
Filming on the two pictures, which are being shot back to back in Vancouver, began last week. Production will last more than 100 days and should finish up in July. Colleagues describe Brunetti as a hands-on producer, who is expected to be on set.
That’s to say nothing of Spacey’s own commitments. The actor will likely need to promote “Elvis & Nixon,” a comedy being released by Amazon and Bleecker Street that launches in Apirl, as well as EuropaCorp’s “Nine Lives,” a family comedy about a businessman who gets transformed into a cat, opening in August through Relativity and EuropaCorp’s RED joint venture. He’s also set up other projects, including a “Billionaire Boys Club” remake alongside Taron Egerton and Ansel Elgort, as well as Edgar Wright’s TriStar action-comedy “Baby Driver.”
Spacey and Brunetti also served as executive producers on a CNN documentary series about high-stakes presidential elections of the past. “Race for the White House” debuts on the cable channel on March 6 — with weekly installments looking at past elections, from Nixon vs. Kennedy to Lincoln vs. Douglas and Dewey vs. Truman.
With their calendars packed with all those projects, the men will have to figure out how to fit in running Relativity. That in and of itself will be a huge challenge as they attempt to guide the studio founded by Ryan Kavanaugh back to profitability. Their new job would entail forging new alliances with talent and their reps, and greenlighting new projects.
A source close to both men said that Spacey and Brunetti were clearing their plate of projects they had agreed to do before the Relativity opportunity landed in their laps.
“I have heard that both of them have been around town, meeting with people and talking to people as if they are looking for product,” said an individual familiar with the situation.
In a sign of the seriousness with which they are taking the new venture, sources say that Sony has ended its first look deal with Trigger Street, the production company both men run. Relativity is expected to enter into some kind of licensing agreement with Trigger Street as part of its deal with Spacey and Brunetti.
On Feb. 1, Spacey appeared in a pre-taped video urging the bankruptcy judge to allow the studio to exit Chapter 11 and promising to “produce some great films in the future.” But Judge Wiles said he wanted more concrete proof of a binding commitment from the actor and Brunetti.
James Rainey contributed to this report.