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Breakthrough pics: “Thank You for Smoking”

What I learned the hard way: “I didn’t want to be a passive player in the industry. If I was going to beat the odds — most people lose money — I had to be really involved. It was really important to stay in control and not rely on experts and give up control to partners.”

What makes Sacks different from other Internet moguls who want to be movie producers? Maybe it’s that he regrets buying the Ferrari. Maybe it’s that he intended to be in Hollywood all along.

Sacks first came to Los Angeles in 1988, fresh out of law school with a job offer but decided “it was so brutally competitive; I didn’t want to be another random producer with no resources.”

He went into management consulting, and then a friend from college called about a company he was launching that would let people transmit money electronically. That eventually morphed into PayPal, which was bought by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.

“I got some fraction of that,” says Sacks. His shingle, Room 9 Entertainment, is actually an equity fund financed by several investors — including old PayPal friends.

“He strikes me as a longtime participant in the business because he takes a very measured approach to each project,” says John Schmidt, whose ContentFilm partnered with Sacks on “Thank You for Smoking,” which will premiere at Toronto.

How measured? Sacks had plenty of money to get started, but he had his heart set on Jason Reitman’s adaptation of Christopher Buckley’s novel, which was in development hell. While he was waiting two years to resolve rights issues before filming started in 2003, he read 1,200 other projects.

He is developing “Slipping Into Darkness,” based on the book about a reporter who infiltrates a gang; “Genuine Fake,” about Salvador Dali’s forgery business; and “Queen Lara,” “King Lear” set in a high school.