THE DEALMAKER: Growing up, Ryan Kavanaugh didn’t dream of being a Hollywood power player. He didn’t dare.
“My parents used to tell me, ‘If you go into the entertainment industry, we’ll disown you,'” he says. “The movie business was the big no-no.”
But he found himself with a slew of Hollywood clients once he was managing a hedge fund in his early 20s. After the market collapsed in 2001, he saw there was a demand for new investment vehicles alongside an array of conservative entertainment conglomerates that needed production capital.
Today, Kavanaugh and Relativity Media, of which he’s CEO, boast a parade of deals that includes co-financing — and co-ownership — for the slates of Sony and Universal, plus a single-picture business. In total, Relativity will either co-
finance or produce some 35 films a year.
To get that capital, Kavanaugh had to convince Wall Street’s dour moneymen that they wouldn’t be tarred with the stereotype of the investor who comes to Hollywood to cavort with starlets.
“What I had to do was almost take the word(s) ‘film’ and ‘entertainment’ out of what we were putting together and sell it on only the merits of the asset (by saying), ‘Look, this is like any other investment. It looks, acts and breathes the same, and the risks and rewards are the same.’ ”
KEY DEALS: Multibillion-dollar co-financing deals Beverly One (with Sony) and Beverly Two (with Universal). Marvel’s financing deal that resulted in “Iron Man” and “The Incredible Hulk.”
DEALMAKER DOS: “You don’t want to make too good a deal for yourself, as you and your partner both have to live with it and live together.”
DEALMAKER DON’TS: “Never promise something and take it away.”
TOP DEALMAKERS ENCOUNTERED: “Carl Icahn, Kirk Kerkorian, Bob Osher, Chuck Roven, Sumner Redstone (and) my father.”