BREAKING: Skydance has raised $700 million in new financing. This includes $200 million in equity from a group of investors, and a $500 million line of credit from J.P. Morgan Chase. Principal David Ellison formed the venture in 2010, when he began co-financing event films at Paramount while slowly growing his own divisions. Since then, Skydance has been a partner in many of that studio’s biggest franchises, including the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible films, World War Z, Jack Reacher and Terminator Genisys.
I’ve been hearing that Ellison was reshaping his company, including moving the emphasis away from co-financing and more toward funding projects generated internally by Skydance’s film, TV, gaming, virtual reality and international divisions. And not exclusively at Paramount. Sony Pictures just stepped up to co-finance Skydance’s Mars mission film Life, which Daniel Espinosa will direct with Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal and Rebecca Ferguson. Ellison did the Dean Devlin-directed Geostorm with Warner Bros. Life probably would have ended up at Paramount, but there was a comparable JJ Abrams-produced Mars project, God Particle, that ruffled some feathers and made Life available to other studios.
Insiders at Paramount have said they expect Skydance to continue to be a reliable co-financing partner for its big pictures. It will for sure continue to co-finance the proven franchises. Skydance renewed for four years its deal with Paramount back in summer, 2013. Ellison formed Skydance Television in 2014, and has four original series on its slate including Grace and Frankie, and Altered Carbon for Netflix, Red Mars for Spike TV and Jack Ryan for Amazon. Latter began as a feature transfer, and after so-so performance of the first film from the Tom Clancy novels, the property moved to the small screen. Skydance has produced ten features since 2010, with $4 billion in worldwide grosses. Next up is the July 22 release Star Trek Beyond and October 21 release Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, in partnership with Paramount. Geostorm will be released January 13 by Warner Bros, and Life by Sony March 24, 2017.
Ellison is the son of Oracle’s Larry Ellison and the brother of Megan Ellison. She has taken a prestige picture path with Annapurna, while David Ellison has been more comfortable with popcorn picture fare. Each of them keeps a low press profile and has achieved success in their businesses.
Said Skydance Media CEO Ellison of the replenished funding: “We appreciate the incredible support that Skydance continues to receive from J.P. Morgan Chase, our bank group and our investors. It is a testament to the immense amount of work and focus that our entire team has contributed to the business over the last few years. As we move into this next phase of expansion, we look forward to working with our highly valued stable of artists and strategic partners to grow the Skydance brand on a global basis.”
Said David Shaheen, Managing Director of the Entertainment Industries Group for J.P. Morgan Chase: “This funding is indicative of the underlying strength of Skydance Media, a well-managed and operationally strong company that has already achieved a great deal and is now well positioned for future growth. We are thrilled to have helped David Ellison and his team secure the new capital that will allow them to fully realize Skydance’s potential.”
“This significant capital infusion will permit us to achieve a number of Skydance’s near-term business goals, including aggressively augmenting our feature film and television slates and pursuing several exciting new opportunities in gaming and virtual reality,” added Jesse Sisgold, Chief Operating Officer of Skydance Media.