Relativity Bankruptcy: Judge Approves Bonuses for Staffers

In a muted hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, attorneys for Relativity tried to resolve any remaining barriers to a likely sale of the troubled movie and television studio this week.

Bonuses for key Relativity executives, such as president Tucker Tooley, CFO and co-COO Andrew Matthews, managing director Carol Genis and Relativity Television CEO Tom Forman, were approved early in Monday’s hearing, paving the way for the leadership to receive more than $1 million in additional pay for remaining with the company through the Chapter 11 process. The court also approved incentives for roughly 80 other Relativity staffers.

The additional funds are seen as a way to retain employees who agreed to salary cuts after the company went bankrupt last summer.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Michael Wiles agreed that information about the size of the bonuses allotted to individual staffers and how those incentives will be determined could remain under seal. Craig Wolfe, an attorney for Relativity, argued that information should not be made public because it could hurt staffers ability to negotiate future employment.

“This is a highly competitive industry,” Wolfe said, noting that disclosing salaries “gives rise to competitive concerns.”

Objections to the incentive plan were resolved last week after Relativity Music President Robert Bowen was pushed into a pool of key employees and out of a grouping that had him list alongside the general staff.

An Oct. 1 sale of the studio behind “Limitless” and “The Immortals” hasn’t attracted much interest. There have been bids for pieces of the failed company, but insiders expect that no offers will exceed a $250 million stalking horse bid by senior lenders. No information about bidders was revealed during the 45-minute hearing.

Lawyers did say they were negotiating with the new occupant of a Santa Monica airplane hanger that once housed offices for Relativity founder Ryan Kavanaugh to ensure that none of the studio’s information or assets remained behind with the new owner. Wolfe said that he could not reveal the identify of the new occupant, but suggested it was someone close to the bankrupt company.

“I might be able to guess who that is,” said Wiles.

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