Australian billionaire James Packer has sold off his share in RatPac Entertainment, the film business he co-founded with Hollywood producer and director, Brett Ratner, four years ago.
Britain’s second richest person, Ukraine-born American billionaire Len Blavatnik, bought Packer’s stake, which Variety first reported the casino mogul had been looking to sell in February, despite denials from the company.
Blavatnik’s company, Access Entertainment, is now Ratner’s partner in RatPac, and the co-founder stays on as CEO.
Access Entertainment president Danny Cohen, a former director of BBC TV, will become co-chairman alongside Ratner.
The deal gives Access ownership of RatPac’s film, television and documentary business, along with a major piece of the RatPac-Dune venture that co-finances up to 75 films for Warner Bros.
Access Entertainment was launched in May 2016, and has invested in a premium scripted television financing venture with BBC Worldwide/Lookout Point, a 25% stake in international television business Bad Wolf and a film slate deal with House Productions.
Brett Ratner, CEO, RatPac Entertainment, said: “I am thrilled to be in partnership with Len and Danny. Len and I have shared the same vision and passion for movies, television and music over the years. Because of his experience and enthusiasm, RatPac Entertainment will be an even more formidable provider of quality entertainment worldwide.”
Blavatnik said: “I am delighted to be partnering with [Warner Bros CEO] Kevin Tsujihara and the studio alongside the unique talent of Brett Ratner. Together we will build on RatPac’s strategic partnership with Warner Bros.”
Tsujihara paid tribute to Packer and his company’s track record since the co-financing deal began.
“We’re excited to continue our relationship with Brett and RatPac and look forward to working with Len, Danny and the entire Access team,” he said.
“I’d also like to thank James – he’s been a terrific partner the last three years, having worked with us on a number of key films, including Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad and The LEGO Batman Movie.”
Founded in 2013 by Ratner and Packer, RatPac co-financed 67 theatrically released films taking more than $10 billion in worldwide box office receipts.
They were nominated for 52 Academy Awards, 39 BAFTAs, 23 Golden Globes, five Emmys and eight AFI awards, winning 22 Oscars, 17 BAFTAs, seven Golden Globes and three AFI awards.
The Ratpac-Dune deal included Gravity, The LEGO Movie, Annabelle, American Sniper, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Conjuring 2, Lights Out, Suicide Squad, The LEGO Batman Movie, Kong: Skull Island and the upcoming Wonder Woman, Justice League and Stephen King’s It. RatPac has also partnered with New Regency on films including the Oscar-winning Birdman and The Revenant.
In January this year, 18 months after he’d quit as chairman of Crown Resorts, Packer decided to rejoin the board amid a major management and board shakeup, including CEO Rowen Craigie leaving after 24 years in the business, while long-time lieutenant John Alexander became chairman and CEO.
But the downturn in high rollers saw Crown post a normalised net profit after tax of $191.3 million, down 9.1%, in February.
The company, 48.2% owned by Packer through his private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), also sold down its stake in Melco Crown Entertainment, the troubled Macau gaming joint venture with Lawrence Ho, the son of gambling pioneer Stanley Ho. Crown’s shareholding was reduced from 27.4% to 14% in a deal bringing in $1.6 billion to cut debt and return funds to shareholders.