Relativity Studios president Tucker Tooley has chosen to step down from the company, following a 30-day transition period. The announcement was made jointly by Tooley and Relativity chairman and CEO Ryan Kavanaugh. Tooley joined the company in 2007. Ramon Wilson, general manager, who has been at the company since 2006, will become president in the interim.
The announcement of Tooley’s exit comes just hours after a hearing today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that was to determine the future of the company. However, because of a (strategic, we’re sure) 750-page document dump at 1 AM, blindsiding their creditors with zero notice, Judge Michael Wiles scheduled a new hearing for tomorrow after saying neither the court nor the creditors have had sufficient time to look over the agreements reached on the TV operation and film side over the weekend.
This also comes only a week after the court approved a key employee clause last week that allowed a number of executives, including Tooley, to remain on board with pay while the company goes through Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Specifically, Relativity asked the court to approve $580,122 for the group of eight top execs to pay key executives and employees.
The question is where Tooley will end up. He had been looking for an exit plan over the last few weeks and had had discussions with other parties, including The Weinstein Company’s Harvey Weinstein to go there — that is before David Glasser (in a surprise move) went back into his old COO job. Tooley said today he will go back to filmmaking. “Now that the company has a clear path to emerge from Chapter 11, I have decided to re-focus my efforts on filmmaking and the creative side of the business. I expect to work closely with Relativity in my new capacity and will announce my plans shortly,” he said.
In exiting the company, Tooley also lauded his embattled CEO Ryan Kavanaugh for the “incredible run” they had over the last eight years, saying that he “admires what he has built and am grateful to have contributed to the growth of Relativity.”
Kavanaugh, in a statement, called Tooley “one of my most trusted colleagues and friends … and that we expect to have a long-term relationship moving forward.”
Tooley and Kavanaugh did build a company over the past several years, complete with what is seen to be a vibrant television unit (which is one of the hardest things to do in this business as it is so costly), but the film unit basically imploded after miss after miss at the box office. They released eight films over the past year and pushed about as many off the schedule as they financials became a trainwreck.
As these two pat each other on the back, let’s look at what is going down: They didn’t pay creditors and now they are in a full-fledged bankruptcy proceeding complete with titles frozen in court and a long line of angry creditors and vendors who have not been paid. Kavanaugh has even been called “a con man” by one of those creditors. Then they did a big document dump in the court on these same creditors at 1 AM. They left their “partners” holding the bag, wondering what was next. Also, nervous employees months ago were told by Kavanaugh that he had millions coming in and not to worry. Then they filed for bankruptcy and started laying off staff, throwing those same employees into a state of panic. That really isn’t anything to be proud of, guys.
The hits? There’s The Fighter, Limitless, Immortals and Act Of Valor. Tooley was also a producer of the We’re The Millers starring Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston. The flops? The business model, for one. And none of these films set the world on fire — Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death, Black Or White and The Lazarus Effect. And then there’s 3 Days To Kill which grossed $52.59M worldwide on what Relativity said was a $28M production budget. But since Relativity said it, who knows what the budget really was, right?