While Burkle’s stake in Relativity Media—the film company created by controversial entrepreneur Ryan Kavanaugh—has ruffled a few feathers in Hollywood, the 59-year-old has become fast friends with Weinstein Company co-chairman Harvey Weinstein, with whom he has financed several films.
In an excerpt from The New Yorker piece:
Harvey had always treated me like a star, even though he never had any reason to believe that I would ever be able to do anything with him.” … Burkle said that he and Weinstein have an informal agreement, in which “basically I can do half of what he does on a movie.” Burkle said, “We do everything on a handshake. The first movie we did together, ‘Idiot Brother,’ Harvey thought he spent more on P. & A.” — prints and advertising — “than he should have, and he called me and said, ‘I’m not gonna take a distribution fee because I don’t think I did you right.’ So, for whatever anybody’s ever told me about how tough Harvey is, he’s been ridiculously fair with me.” He added, “Everything I’ve done with Harvey has been profitable — everything.
Burkle backed Harvey and Bob Weinstein‘s attempt to acquire Miramax Films and its library throughout 2010. In 2011, Burkle and Weinstein closed the biggest deal in Sundance which led to the wide release of the successful indie feature “My Idiot Brother,” starring Paul Rudd.
“My Idiot Brother” was made for $5 million, but grossed $24,816,118 at the box office.
The profile goes on discuss Burkle’s role in Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media—responsible for films such as “Get Him To The Greek,” “The Fighter” and “Atonement”—describing him as “a fierce opportunist, cloaked in benevolence.”
In the past seven years, Kavanaugh has proved adept at structuring deals where investors have done poorly while he and Relativity prospered. And last winter, when Kavanaugh’s luck finally seemed to have run out, Burkle rescued his company … Relativity’s first big-budget epic, “Immortals,” was set to open in early November, and, less than two weeks beforehand, Elliott reportedly threatened to reduce its investment unless Kavanaugh agreed to dramatic concessions. At this moment, Burkle appeared, and in a familiar guise: a fierce opportunist, cloaked in benevolence. Colbeck Capital, a New York firm that he helped establish, negotiated the deal with Kavanaugh, Burkle said: a 50-million-dollar loan, followed by others. “Ryan was fair with us on one deal, and we liked the maths and the structure and the security,” Burkle said. “He had ‘Mirror Mirror’ and ‘Act of Valor’ coming out, and somebody had to step in to do what his partner had promised to do and didn’t do.” He emphasised that Kavanaugh had not charmed him into this investment, even though he found him “personable.” In January, Burkle expanded his interest, in a transaction that gave him free equity. According to someone familiar with the transaction, the collateral was, essentially, the whole company…
But most interesting was this nugget, discussing the idea of a merger between both of the semi-Burkle-backed film companies:
One popular Hollywood theory is that Burkle will eventually fire Kavanaugh and most of the Relativity employees, put Harvey Weinstein in charge, and call the merged entities the Weinstein Company. Burkle rejects this scenario. When I asked Weinstein about it, he stammered for a moment and then said, “Ron has never said that to me, and I doubt that it would be true.”
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