Ryan Kavanaugh Loses Academy Appeal on ‘The Fighter’

Exclusive: Relativity chief runs afoul of Academy, Producers Guild rule limiting nominated producers to three


Ryan Kavanaugh has lost another appeal to have his name reinstated as one of the producers of "The Fighter," this time with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Ryan Kavanaugh and David O. RussellAccording to three sources close to the film, Kavanaugh (left, with "Fighter" director David O. Russell) took his case to the Academy after the Producers Guild of America had ruled that only three of the film's six listed producers warranted a "produced by" credit, and a PGA nomination.

Both the Producers Guild and the Academy have rules that in most circumstances limit the number of nominated producers to three. The AMPAS Producers Branch Executive Committee, which has the right to rule on which producers qualify, typically allows the PGA to adjudicate disputes, and accepts the guild's rulings.

Kavanaugh appealed the PGA's initial ruling that David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman and Mark Wahlberg had earned the producer's credit but that Kavanaugh, Dorothy Aufiero and Paul Tamasy had not. He lost that appeal last year, and a guild spokesperson says that the credits included when the PGA announced its nominees on January 4 are final, with no further appeal possible.

A successful AMPAS appeal would have been Kavanaugh's last chance to land an Oscar nomination for "The Fighter."

Apart from the three "Fighter" producers, five other producers were denied production credits by the PGA, which eliminated three producers from "The Kids Are All Right" and one each from "127 Hours" and "Black Swan." The guild did, however, rule that all four credited producers on "The Social Network" were deserving of a nomination.

The PGA has a strict set of guidelines for the granting of a "produced by" credit, which requires that a producer  have “significant decision-making authority over a majority of the producing functions across the four phases of a motion picture’s production.”  Those phases are Development, Pre-Production, Production and Post-Production & Marketing

The code of credits lists 30 separate functions over those four stages, and requires that a producer exercise authority over a majority of those functions.

Typically, it is difficult for the owner of a studio, as Kavanaugh is with Relativity, to receive producer credit from the PGA and AMPAS. It is doubly difficult in the case of a film in which a producer comes into the picture after development has been going on for years, regardless of whether that producer's input was essential to the film being made, as Kavanaugh's was on "The Fighter."

With Oscar ballots still in the hands of voters, a spokesperson for the Academy declined to confirm or comment on the appeal.

(Photo by Steven Lovekin/Getty Images)