Megan Ellison fends off ‘rumblings’ of Annapurna Pictures bankruptcy as company struggles
Annapurna Pictures founder Megan Ellison on Wednesday pushed back against “rumblings” that her film studio was on the verge of bankruptcy as the company tried to renegotiate deals with lenders.
The West Hollywood company behind films such as ‘Booksmart’ and ‘Vice’ is in talks with banks to restructure its debt after years of struggling to produce commercial success in the difficult independent film industry.
Ellison, the daughter of billionaire Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison, has earned a reputation for directing quality films, including last year’s ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ and ‘Sorry to Bother You’ , but has recently faced speculation that her company is running. ran out of money due to a series of box office disappointments.
In a memo to staff, Ellison sought to allay concerns about the company’s financial health, in response to an impending Deadline story that said the company was considering filing for bankruptcy. If ongoing talks with banks collapse, the company may have to seek Chapter 11 protection from creditors, according to people familiar with the matter who were not authorized to comment.
“I learned this morning that there are rumors all over town about our current status with the banks,” Ellison wrote. “Restructuring deals with financial institutions are not uncommon, but the process is generally handled without being exposed. Fortunately/unfortunately, people like to write about me and my family.
Larry Ellison is one of the richest people in the world, with a net worth of $65 billion, according to Forbes. His son David Ellison runs Skydance Media, another Santa Monica-based film finance and production company that focuses on blockbuster films such as the “Terminator” and “Mission: Impossible” films.
Although more artistic Annapurna films are often reviewing awards, the company weathered internal upheaval and financial disappointments, with misfires like “Detroit” and “The Sisters Brothers.” Last year, the studio decided to scrap films including “Hustlers” starring Jennifer Lopez and a project about the late Fox News chief Roger Ailes as it reconfigured its cinematic strategy. Annapurna film president Chelsea Barnard has also left the company.
Annapurna is just the latest mini-studio to face tough times in the dangerous space of independent cinema. Last year the two Weinstein Co. and Global Road Movies filed for bankruptcy protection in order to sell their assets. Burbank-based STX Entertainment, which focuses on mid-budget films, has also struggled financially as the film industry has become increasingly dominated by studio franchises.
Nonetheless, Megan Ellison told staff she remains optimistic about the company’s prospects. His next release is “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Richard Linklater. a book adaptation starring Cate Blanchett, which hits theaters next week.
“I believe in what we are doing and have no intention of stopping anytime soon,” she wrote. “We have a lot of exciting things on the horizon and I am confident that all of our hard work will continue to show Annapurna’s unique and powerful place in this industry.”