Relativity CEO Kavanaugh Continues To Push For Resolution Against All Odds

By Anita Busch, Ali Jaafar

EXCLUSIVE: He’s trying and mightily. Relativity founder and CEO Ryan Kavanaugh has, in the past week, reached out to many in Hollywood and financial players to do everything from looking for equity investment and laying off films to finding possible reverse mergers, but no one seems to be biting … yet. He still has about a week to go. “Relativity has incredible assets and continues to work aggressively towards closing deals with motivated investors,” said one source close to the company.

But, as one film company head said: “He’s in very deep right now, and I see no way out for him because, while he’s a very nice guy, the books are what they are. When you owe that much money and have such a high overhead and then are drawing on P&A money to stay afloat, who is going to buy into that?”

Apparently, at least one “motivated” investor has. Sources say that an investor out of Chicago gave Relativity another $55M about four weeks ago, but that pales in comparison to what Kavanaugh needs.

The numbers we are hearing is that the company has drawn on $90M of P&A to help pay overhead, which we understand is about $75M a year. One source close to the company aggressively disputed what several others told us, stating very bluntly: “Relativity is not currently drawing on any P&A for overhead purposes.” Relativity had no official comment on this.

We also are hearing that the company has $60M to $70M on delinquent payables and, as we previously reported, payments to its lenders totaling over $250M. Those companies gave Relativity a 30-day reprieve to figure things out, but time is almost up.

Meanwhile, contrary to what’s been reported, TPG Capital (which is different from TPG Growth), is not looking to put equity into Relativity. In fact, it’s 100% false. Although Tony Vinciquerra — whose involvement first was reported by Deadline’s sister publication Variety — is helping out, he is, in fact, advising Colbeck, who is looking at many different scenarios. (We bet they are as its two board members were kicked off the Relativity board two weeks ago.) But none of those scenarios includes equity investment from TPG Capital or TPG Growth.

The big question, as Deadline already raised when last week we reported Relativity’s latest struggles, is whether Kavanaugh himself can survive and whether the company will undergo a Chapter restructuring or involuntary administration.

As one film exec said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if they go into bankruptcy, and I also wouldn’t be surprised if Kavanaugh then starts bidding for the company at the bankruptcy.”

“As we’ve said before, the company and its lenders entered into a formal agreement that allows Relativity additional time to close its previously agreed upon financing transaction,” said Relativity spokesman David Shane. “This agreement ensures Relativity additional liquidity as discussions continue. Ryan Kavanaugh and Relativity are deeply appreciative of its lenders’ ongoing support, and the company looks forward to continuing to work with its lenders to position us for long-term success.”

Several sources around town told us that Kavanaugh is making $40M a year. However, one source close to the studio called that number “wildly inaccurate,” saying, “He makes around $6 million to $10 million per year.”

Relativity also has been trying to lay off some of its films to STX, and those discussions are ongoing. It’s well known that Relativity has millions invested in projects that are expected to go before the cameras as soon as August and have no way to bring those to market without a partner or money infused. It already pushed one film (Bronze) off to a later date and postponed the release of Masterminds by two weeks. It was thought that the company had enough to market the Owen Wilson-Zach Galifianakis comedy, but sources now are saying at this point they might not have enough to bring either that one or Kidnap — the Halle Berry-starring thriller from Lotus that it picked up during Toronto last year — to market.

Again, that also was disputed by a source close to the company, who said, “The company has the finances to release both Masterminds and Kidnap and plans to release Masterminds on August 19th and Kidnap on October 9th.” Relativity had no comment.

It’s not necessarily a disaster for Relativity if the company cannot release the pictures themselves; other companies have survived with third-party P&A commitments.

A key element of Kavanaugh’s strategy has been securing output deals in key international markets to offset the risk of Relativity’s productions. One distributor who has an output deal with Relativity told Deadline: “We have been following the story with great interest. We have to release a certain number of films every year. If we don’t get these from Relativity, we will find them somewhere else. There will be alternative venues if Relativity ceases to exist. Let’s see what happens. They’ve been a good partner.”

It also remains to be seen what happens to RED in the event of any larger Relativity bankruptcy or even specific default with regards to the joint venture with EuropaCorp. Relativity and Europa share 50-50 the overhead costs of the distribution JV — $7 million each annually — with each side bringing their own P&A costs to release their respective films. One scenario that could play out could see Europa begrudgingly taking over RED completely and cover the other $7 million in overhead.

One offshore distributor noted that no one would shed a tear if the company went under based on recent output. Most of Relativity’s product recently has been domestic acquisitions and not pure productions and the film company hasn’t delivered anything to wow in either 2014 or 2015 (yet). The distributor was looking forward to Masterminds, which is considered one of their strongest films. They had a good run around Limitless, Fighter, Immortals, and Haywire, but the distrib noted “a big drop off recently.”

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