Relativity secures major capital

Hundreds of millions positions studio to distrib at least 15 films per year

Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media has secured a new round of financing — in the hundreds of millions — that positions the studio to realize its ambitions of becoming a bona fide Hollywood major.

New York-based hedge fund Elliott Associates, which helped Relativity get off the ground as its primary financier, has put up enough equity to allow Relativity to complete a larger bank facility in the multi-$100 million dollar range, Kavanaugh confirmed to Variety on Friday. The Relativity CEO was unable to disclose a precise figure due to the terms of the deal.

Relativity has rapidly ascended from a studio-dependent production company that released a handful of movies each year to a freestanding studio with its own distrib machinery.

Between the 9-10 movies Relativity plans to make a year and its burgeoning acquisitions business, the studio plans on distributing at least 15 films a year, Kavanaugh told Variety, adding that the infusion of significant capital “allows us to be a competitive, full-fledged studio.” The movie mogul explained that given that “we have moved into the distribution business, doubled the size of our team, inked significant deals with Netflix, Technicolor and others, it has become a full-fledged studio — and the infusion of capital will allow us to compete with the major studios.”

Last summer, Relativity inked its lucrative Netflix deal to digitally stream its slate, bypassing pay-TV channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz. That deal initally covered the 10-14 films that Relativity doesn’t co-finance, but terms were renegotiated to include up to 30 titles a year over the next five years, including co-productions.

Considering that Netflix struck separate $200 million-a-year streaming deals for films from Epix, and TV shows from CBS and ABC, Disney Channel and ABC Family, deal with Relativity should also put coin in the studio’s coffers.

Relativity distributed Nicolas Cage-starrer “Season of the Witch” earlier this year, and while the genre film grossed a disappointing $24 million stateside, it performed well overseas and has now grossed over $71 million worldwide. Studio opened the ’80s comedy “Take Me Home Tonight” this weekend, and has the Bradley Cooper-Robert De Niro thriller “Limitless” coming out March 18.

Looking forward, Relativity has high hopes for Tarsem Singh’s “Immortals,” which stars Mickey Rourke and Henry Cavill, who director Zack Snyder recently cast as Superman. The studio is also developing a sequel to 2008’s sleeper hit “The Strangers,” as well as a reboot of “The Crow” franchise.

Tom Lowry and Marc Graser contributed to this story.