Dumb Money No More: How David Ellison Became a Hollywood High Flier

The fairness take care of RedBird and CJ Entertainment valued Skydance at about $2.three billion. At its present tempo of progress — income is predicted to extend greater than 40 p.c this 12 months in contrast with final, the corporate mentioned — Skydance could possibly be price $5 billion or extra in a few years. Mr. Ellison would most definitely pursue a sale or an preliminary public providing at that time.

Skydance might rapidly turn out to be an acquisition goal. After Amazon’s $8.45 billion purchase of MGM, content material engines with entry to established mental property, Skydance included, are scorching prospects. Even if Skydance components methods with Paramount subsequent 12 months, the expiring deal offers Skydance an unbelievable perk: the persevering with proper to spend money on the Paramount franchises with which Skydance is already concerned. “Star Trek.” “Mission: Impossible.” “Jack Ryan.” “G.I. Joe.” “Top Gun.”

Comcast, which wants to spice up its Peacock streaming service, could possibly be a purchaser. So might Apple, which thought of selecting up MGM. This spring, Skydance obtained feelers from a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, led by Kevin A. Mayer, Disney’s former streaming chief.

“It’s true that we have had some interesting conversations lately, but our growth curve is still significant and if we keep working hard and stay adaptive that should afford us a lot of optionality in the future,” Mr. Ellison mentioned, sounding extra like an M.B.A. graduate than a budding leisure tycoon.

Skydance has wide-ranging growth plans. Amy Hennig, a former senior inventive govt at Electronic Arts, is constructing a online game division. Another division focuses on virtual-reality content material. Mr. Ellison not too long ago employed Luis Fernández, a 20-year Disney veteran, to start out a client merchandise enterprise. But Skydance’s future rests on scripted content material and the diploma to which it might probably create pay-dirt film and tv franchises out of complete fabric, because it seems to have achieved with “The Old Guard.”

Some folks in Hollywood stay skeptical that Skydance has the inventive experience to tug it off. Mr. Ellison and his staff have excelled at placing initiatives collectively (29 movies and tv collection offered to streaming companies in two years). But execution — high quality — has been inconsistent. And high quality issues: The Skydance-made “6 Underground,” an motion comedy directed by Michael Bay, drew views from a blockbuster 83 million Netflix accounts in late 2019. But the film additionally obtained less-than-stellar reviews, lessening Netflix’s curiosity in a sequel.

A stream of well-reviewed unique hits would drive Hollywood to lastly take Mr. Ellison significantly as a inventive energy.

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