Annapurna Pictures bankruptcy

Annapurna Pictures, the indie production company-turned-film-distributor run by Megan Ellison, has reportedly been reeling a bit since the company lost money on all but one of its 2018 movies. A report last year claimed Annapurna was “reevaluating” its film division (a claim the company denied at the time), but now The Hollywood Reporter says Annapurna Pictures “has retained a law firm to explore bankruptcy protection”.

But there’s a chance things may not be quite as dire as they seem: Ellison herself sent out an email to her company’s staff addressing the company’s financial situation, and it doesn’t seem like she’s walking away with her tail between her legs. “I believe in what we make and have no intention of stopping any time soon,” she wrote. Read the highlights from the THR report and Ellison’s full letter to the company below.

Annapurna Pictures Bankruptcy?

An Annapurna spokesperson tells THR that “The Ellison family is in negotiations to restructure their deals with the banks. They remain in full support of the company and are dedicated to Annapurna’s future.” The Ellison family consists of billionaire Larry Ellison (who founded Oracle) and his children, Megan and David; while Megan turned Annapurna into a haven for auteurs like Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Spike Jonze (Her), Paul Thomas Anderson (Phantom Thread), Richard Linklater (Everybody Wants Some!!) and David O. Russell (American Hustle), David Ellison founded Skydance Media, the company responsible for producing the new Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, and Terminator movies at Paramount.

Last year, Annapurna Pictures cut ties with two high-profile movie projects: Jennifer Lopez’s crime film Hustlers, and Jay Roach’s political drama about former Fox News head honcho Roger Ailes. Three upper-level employees left the company, Annapurna’s 2018 films did not perform well financially, and some in Hollywood seemed to smell blood in the water. But Annapurna didn’t just crumble under pressure: it released Booksmart earlier this year, it has a new Emily Blunt movie in the works and Where’d You Go, Bernadette? still on the release calendar, and, most importantly, the company teamed up with MGM to form a joint distribution company called United Artists Releasing, which is set to release the next James Bond movie.

THR has an illuminating paragraph about that:

Bond 25, which has been plagued by setbacks including a director switch, star Daniel Craig’s ankle injury and at least two peeping tom incidents involving hidden cameras in a bathroom, is scheduled to be released April 8 by UAR (Ellison is also a board member of the UAR). How Annapurna’s cash flow issues will effect the MGM tentpole’s release will be determined. An MGM source says there would be no impact on the release of any its titles including Bond.

Peeping tom incidents? That’s messed up.

Anyway, Ellison responded to her staff in this letter, which doesn’t specifically mention bankruptcy, but does admit to restructuring deals with the banks. You can read the letter in its entirety below, but I’ll just end by saying the same thing I’ve been saying for a year now: I really hope this isn’t the beginning of the end for Annapurna Pictures, because Ellison is such a valuable voice in the film industry right now and one of the rare people who’s proven willing to invest in the types of projects that would be tough to make elsewhere.

Megan Ellison’s Response to Her Staff

Dear AP Team,

I got word this morning that there are some rumblings around town about our current status with the banks and that a story is likely to hit the press at some point today.

Restructuring deals with financial institutions is not uncommon, yet the process is usually handled without a spotlight on it. Fortunately/unfortunately, people like to write about me and my family.

That said, it is of tremendous importance to me that you all know we are as committed as ever to this company and are in full support of our future.

Regardless of whatever comes out in the press, the truth is that we are well on our continued path towards success. There will always be speculation, misinformation and personal jabs in the press – that’s part of the business.

But know, none of that matters to me. What does is your sense of security and protecting the special community and culture at Annapurna. I believe in what we make and have no intention of stopping any time soon.

We have a lot of exciting things on the horizon and I have no doubt all of our hard work will continue to show Annapurna’s unique and powerful place in this industry.

If you have any questions or want to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Megan

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