Brunetti is understood to be lining up a new venture that will allow him to return to a hands-on producer role once his entanglement with Relativity is sorted out. The producer behind “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “The Social Network,” and other notable features has been frustrated during the past year that the money and resources promised to him by Relativity Media chief Kavanaugh, who is stepping down from the company according to several reports, never materialized.
Brunetti declined to comment on Wednesday.
Brunetti and his former producing partner Kevin Spacey shocked the biz in October 2015 when they began discussions with Kavanaugh to join the new-model Relativity as it was emerging from bankruptcy proceedings. Spacey was to have served as chairman, but the actor took himself out of the mix in March, citing his busy work schedule.
Brunetti had hoped to build on the ashes of the old Relativity. But the company has lurched around from one financial crisis to another during the past year while still facing legal wrangling with past creditors and partners such as Netflix.
By multiple accounts, Brunetti washed his hands of Relativity’s business several weeks ago. He’s been focused on extricating himself from the company in the hopes of hitting the ground running early next year with new business prospects.
After initially not commenting on the report of Brunetti shift, a Relativity spokesperson said in a statement that Brunetti had “transitioned to a production deal with Relativity,” and denied he had any disagreement with Kavanaugh. The statement made it sound as if Brunetti would have an ongoing relationship with Relativity, saying his “greatest value add to the company is to make the movies he wants to, giving him flexibility to make the films he enjoys.”
The statement also said that Brunetti remained a “large shareholder” of Relativity and added that Brett Dahl had taken over the role of president of production.
Though it formally emerged from Chapter 11 status in April, Kavanaugh’s mini-studio had trouble gaining the kind of investment it needed to make new films. The company had shed its television division, its for-profit entertainment school, and both a sports and fashion agency during the bankruptcy.
Relativity’s ongoing struggles were thrown into focus in the last week when it was revealed that the company, already greatly down-sized, had to lay off about six more workers. It was also feuding with EuropaCorp, its partner in a distribution joint venture, over a failure to pay its bills. And on Monday, several sources said employees were told they would not be paid during the company’s two-week holiday break.
Relativity said through a spokesperson that the report about the holiday furlough was “incorrect,” though it did not specify exactly how.
James Rainey contributed to this report.