Relativity Media is about to stand on its own again after U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Michael Wiles agreed that it had fulfilled two conditions that he had set last month for the company to exit Chapter 11 protection.
“The testimony is uncontradicted that the (plan) is reasonable,” he said at a hearing this morning. “Everybody recognizes that the emerged company will be highly leveraged and forecasting films is an iffy proposition.”
Wiles added that he “cannot be complimentary enough or congratulate the company enough” for resolving the huge array of challenges to, and questions about, Relativity’s viability since July when it filed for Chapter 11 protection.
In early February, he approved Relativity’s plan to exit from bankruptcy protection with two contingencies. It had to supply proof that it had locked up $80 million in additional funding that it told the court was all but in hand. It also had to persuade him that actor Kevin Spacey and his business partner Dana Brunetti were locked in to run the studio, which Relativity also presented as virtually a done deal.
But instead of the original funding agreeent, Relativity offered $75 million from new deals with MidCap Financial Trust (for $40 million) and CEO Ryan Kavanaugh’s financial partner Joseph Nicholas (for $35 million). It also presented an employment contract with Brunetti — but not his partner Kevin Spacey, who bowed out early this month.
The judge accepted the changes.
Nicholas testified today that the company expects investment cash to start rolling in. It is “planning on engaging with bankers to work on the [capital] raise immediately. Already we have interested parties contacting us. They want to start a dialogue as soon as we emerge” from bankruptcy.
Relativity advisor Marni Wieshofer told the court that the funding deals it offered today were “superior” to the ones presented in February. They allow for more lucrative distribution fees and terms for home video.
“That’s quite significant,” she said.
Wieshofer also said, in response to a question from Wiles, that she’s confident about the company’s assumptions about film revenues. “Nobody can pick them,” she said about predicting hits and anticipating box office sales. “But you do your best on that.”
The revenue assumptions pushed back Relativity’s first release from May to later this year. “That gives the company some runway,” she said. “Overall it won’t hurt you over a three-year period.” She added that “TV is small to start, but growing.”
The financial plan assumes that additional equity will come in April. If it doesn’t then it’s no problem. “You can delay release of films…I also have various conservatism in the model.”
In other matters, Relativity told Wiles that it had agreements that “at least conceptually resolve” the few remaining objections to its exit plan.
Backers of an update to a 1994 film The Crow, including The Weinstein Co, are still negotiating with Relativity about questions regarding their rights over the property.
CIT Bank also is seeking to clarify MidCap’s place in the pecking order of Relativity creditors, and its claims on the studio’s collateral.