The company’s losses over “Rush” are playing out with internal disarray and the founders on the verge of leaving the company
Exclusive Media co-founders Nigel Sinclair and Guy East are negotiating their exit from the company and seeking to form a new venture with assets from the current company, several individuals with knowledge of their plans told TheWrap.
Layoffs at the movie sales and finance company were underway on Friday, after the company’s primary investor Dasym Media began to take measures in the wake of $15 to $20 million in losses from “Rush.”
A spokeswoman for Exclusive cautioned that negotiations between East, Sinclair and Dasym are ongoing, but multiple insiders said Sinclair will leave and take Spitfire Pictures, Exclusive’s documentary label, with him. East and Sinclair formed Exclusive six years ago by merging Spitfire with Hammer films, a venerable U.K. horror label controlled by Dasym.
The company let go six or seven junior employees Friday, according to the knowledgeable individuals. A spokeswoman said the company was “right-sizing.” Dasym is still backing the company, but turned on East and Sinclair’s leadership after they lost money on “Rush,” Ron Howard‘s film about the rivalry between two Formula One drivers played by Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl.
Exclusive co-financed the movie with Cross Creek Pictures, and both of those companies covered the marketing expenditures of Universal Pictures, which distributed the movie through its deal with Cross Creek. The movie did well enough overseas, but Exclusive pre-sold the rights in many territories to cover its equity investment. Exclusive suffered because the movie tanked in the U.S., grossing $26 million.
The spokeswoman for Exclusive said losses were below what Wrap sources said were $15 million to $20 million. She declined to be specific.
Though Exclusive has been successful selling the foreign distribution rights to films and produced several critically acclaimed films, including “End of Watch,” some of the movies they have produced delivered weak box office results. This past year, it also lost money on “Parkland.”
The future of a few movies remains in the balance, as well as Exclusive’s 20 percent stake in Millenium Entertainment, a distribution outfit that has released films such as “Rampart” and “Dead Awake.” However, Avi Lerner, whose Nu Image is the primary owner of Millenium, is driving the sales process.
He has yet to find a buyer, though sources say he is close. There was once talk Exclusive would buy all of Millenium, a reflection of its growing ambitions. That is no longer the case.