David Ellison is the son of Larry Ellison, Oracle‘s billionaire founding CEO.While that gives him notoriety, it isn’t why he’s interesting.
David is an aspiring Hollywood mogul, leading a $350 million movie production company, with several Tom Cruise movies coming up, and even a nebulous “media company 2.0” strategy with TV shows and new media ventures.
His production company, Skydance, already has one hit under its belt. It coproduced True Grit, the Oscar nominated Coen brothers film that grossed $130 million.
This is Ellison’s first hit after struggling in the movie business for years. His first movie flopped and he couldn’t even get his second project off the ground, mostly because he insisted on co-starring.
But, he seems to have figured out the movie game. After dropping his acting ambitions and striking a smart partnership with Paramount, he’s become a player.
And the crazy part is he’s only 28. With billions (presumably) in inheritance money waiting for him, Ellison could develop into a real force in Hollywood.
He got a passion for movies from a young age. His other hobby was apparently playing video games.
At 12, David got interested in model planes, he told Airspace Mag. When he turned 13 his dad bought them a plane and they learned to fly it together. David is now an accomplished acrobatic pilot, with more than 2,000 hours logged.
He's flying the 'Flyboys' plane here.
The movie tells the story of the Lafayette Escadrille, American pilots who volunteered for the French Air Force in World War I before the US joined the war.
If you haven't heard of it, that's because it bombed: It had a $60 million budget and grossed only $13 million domestically.
He tried to write, produce and co-star in another movie and got Twilight star Taylor Lautner on board for $7.5 million, until Lautner found out that Ellison wanted to play in the movie. Lautner backed out and as a result, so did everyone else.
That public flop convinced Ellison to stick to producer.
After the credit crunch, the huge movie studio Paramount couldn't find a financier. That's when Ellison raised $350 million, $100 in equity and $250 million in a revolving credit facility from JP Morgan, to make movies. The two went into a joint production deal: Skydance can co-produce Paramount projects and Paramount can co-produce (and distribute) Skydance projects.
His dad contributed 'part' of the equity according to the LA Times, which no doubt helped.
Ellison decided to co-produce True Grit, the Coen Brothers' western movie which is up for all kinds of oscars and, more importantly, already grossed over $130 million. Can't argue with success.
In the pipeline: the next Mission: Impossible movie, a Top Gun sequel, a new Jack Ryan movie (the hero of the Tom Clancy novels) and a live-action adaptation of the cult 1970s animated series Star Blazers.
Expert Hollywood blogger Nikki Finke writes that 'Skydance has fast become a key player for Paramount.'