Over the last month, the Oscar-and-Emmy nominated producer has worked on extricating himself from his contract at the company which resurfaced from Chapter 11 last April and has struggled to find its footing and further financing.
Brunetti will return to producing, which he has continued to do during his tenure at Relativity; his next movie being the Fifty Shades of Grey sequel, Fifty Shades Darker on Feb. 10. In addition, there’s the fifth season of Netflix’s House of Cards and the Discovery Unabomber scripted series Manifesto, which Brunetti is producing with his former Trigger Street Productions partner Kevin Spacey. In taking the job at Relativity, Brunetti disbanded his production company Trigger Street with Spacey, though the two remain EPs on House of Cards and Manifesto.
Brunetti’s departure follows reports tonight that Ryan Kavanaugh is reducing his role as Relativity’s CEO. This news remains unconfirmed by insiders; in fact it’s not clear to some what exactly is going on in regards to Kavanaugh’s position. Kavanaugh’s outgoing email reads that he’s out until January on a medical procedure.
Earlier today, Relativity pinkslipped a number of its employees in finance and administration support while placing 30-plus employees on furlough during the Christmas and New Year’s Day break which ends on Jan. 3. Since emerging from bankruptcy, Relativity has tried to raise more financing, claiming to have YuuZoo as a backer. There’s also been news that Relativity was up for sale, and that Lionsgate was kicking the tires on the company’s 40-plus title film library.
Since April, Relativity released two movies during the fall that were already in the can — the Zach Galifianakis-Kristen Wiig ensemble comedy Masterminds ($17.4M) and the Kate Beckinsale horror movie The Disappointments Room ($2.4M) — which both died at the box office. Last month, Relativity pulled the Halle Berry thriller Kidnapped off its Dec. 2 release date and rescheduled it for March 10. At the same time, we heard that the movie was being shopped around to different distributors in an effort to land the best deal possible.
Brunetti isn’t taking any Relativity projects with him as nothing was ever locked down. Sources say that it was a challenge for Brunetti to get any projects off the ground since there wasn’t any funding coming into Relativity. This includes the anticipated remake of High Noon, which the company reportedly negotiated with Karen Kramer, the widow of High Noon producer Stanley Kramer.
Last month, Samuel Hadida’s Davis Films, Highland Film Group and Electric Shadow acquired the rights to finance, produce and distribute The Crow Reborn, a reboot of the 1994 movie that Relativity developed with the film’s original producer Edward R. Pressman. Crow Reborn was set to go into production last year, but was stalled when Relativity went into bankruptcy. Coming out of Chapter 11, Relativity was set to prioritize Crow Reborn, but then ran into financial difficulties again. In February, Pressman during Relativity’s U.S. Bankruptcy Court proceedings asked the judge to take away Relativity’s remake rights to the film, while accusing Brunetti (who hadn’t officially started at the company yet) for firing Crow director Corin Hardy.
Given Relativity’s financial turmoil over the last two years, Brunetti’s departure comes as no surprise.