Relativity President Steve Bertram Weighs Leaving After 1 Year (Exclusive)

With his contract due, the former senior Paramount chief may be eyeing the exit

EXCLUSIVE

Is Relativity Media President and Chief Financial Officer Steve Bertram looking to jump ship after just a year at the independent studio?

Bertram told TheWrap on Wednesday that he is thinking of leaving at the end of his contract, which is "shortly," he said.

"I haven’t made a decision about what I'm going to do," he said. "It’s as likely I’m staying as not. Ryan (Kavanaugh) and I are in the middle of conversations. There isn’t a decision. I wanted to take some time to figure things out."

Meanwhile, two individuals with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap that Bertram will be exiting at the end of the year. The executive’s contract is up at that time.

The studio confirmed that it was in discussions with Bertram. 

The loss of Bertram, who is second only to CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, would be a significant blow to the independent studio, which has expanded into distribution this year and has an ambitious production slate for next year, including the release of the Snow White epic, “Mirror, Mirror.”

But the studio has struggled with finding the capital it needs to finance its slate. Relativity's relationship with hedge fund Elliott Management has deteriorated, and Kavanaugh has sought a new financial partner to fund his production plans.

Bertram was brought on board in late October 2010 to serve as Relativity's chief operating officer and chief financial officer. He became president after Michael Joe left in May. And his departure would come as Kavanaugh has been courting both JP Morgan and Colbeck Capital, from whom he borrowed $200 million.

The JP Morgan deal has been stagnant, according to studio insiders.

Also read: Ryan Kavanaugh’s 9 Lives: $200M Loan From Ron Burkle Saves 'Immortals' (Exclusive)

Though Relativity chief Kavanaugh boasts grand ambitions of making the film financier into a major studio force, the company's slate has been a mixed bag. Relativity scored hits with "Limitless" ($161.8 million, worldwide) and "The Immortals" ($180 million, worldwide), but there have also been a number of flops such as "Take Me Home Tonight" ($6.9 million, worldwide) and "Machine Gun Preacher" ($1.1 million, worldwide).

The company recently had to secure the loan from Colbeck, backed by billionaire Ron Burkle, to cover the marketing costs for "The Immortals."

The company has seen a number of executive departures in recent months. Hiring Bertram was considered a coup for the studio, but it came at a cost.

After Relativity was poised to land Bertram in August 2010, Paramount refused to let the home entertainment executive out of his contract. An individual close to the situation told TheWrap that Relativity paid Paramount get Bertram released.

If Bertram exits, his departure would follow a number of key executive shakeups at the studio in recent months.

After Bertram replaced Joe as president, Brian Edwards, formerly the COO and general counsel at Mark Burnett Productions, became Relativity's COO.

One month earlier, Relativity president of theatrical marketing and distribution, Peter Adee, announced he was leaving the studio after 10 months on the job. Industry veteran Terry Curtin, formerly of Revolution Studios and before that of Disney, replaced him.

In August, 2010, Geoffrey Ammer stepped down from his post as worldwide marketing president for Relativity Media and was replaced by Adee, Overture Films marketing and distribution chief.

And just last Monday, Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions announced that Relativity's Joe Matukewicz was joining that company as senior VP of acquisitions.

Prior to becoming head of business operations for Paramount Home Video, Bertram was the former CFO of DreamWorks and one of Jeffrey Katzenberg’s top deputies.