Ryan Kavanaugh Wants to Move on From Relativity: ‘That Guy Was Kind of an A–hole’

TheGrill 2019: "I made a ton of mistakes and there's a lot I'd go back and fix," Kavanaugh says

When Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media filed for bankruptcy, he decided to stay away from Hollywood for a while. But in his return to being a financier and producer, he wants to put his old company and his old ways behind him.

“I made a ton of mistakes and there’s a lot I’d go back and fix,” Kavanaugh said during the opening spotlight conversation at The Grill, TheWrap’s annual business and entertainment conference.

“I was not great to my friends and family,” Kavanaugh said. “I was the guy who canceled a meeting for the more important meeting and kind of a guy that I look back at today going, ‘That guy was kind of an a–hole.’ I now since have learned… you can’t change the past, but if you do something wrong, you can change the future.”

Relativity filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for a second time in May of last year, having racked up somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion in debt in two years. Kavanaugh said during the conversation at TheGrill, however, that the company didn’t go bankrupt because of the debt. Rather, he said, the debt gave a takeover opportunity to the hedge fund that oversaw the studio’s potential initial public offering.

Relativity sold its assets to UltraV Group — a joint venture of funds managed by Sound Point Capital Management and RMRM Holdings.

Last Month, Kavanaugh announced that his new company, Proxima Media, had entered a pact with China’s National Arts Studio, a physical studio boasting a 100-square-mile ranch an hour from Hong Kong, the company said. As part of the agreement, Proxima received a $250 million equity injection to produce up to 10 U.S. films in China and also acquired a large stake in the publicly traded Hong Kong studio, with plans to take over management and building out of the studio.

Kavanaugh explained his vision for a kind of entertainment stock exchange that would produce films, but also give fans and audiences the opportunity to buy a piece of certain films, just like Wall Street investors do. He also hopes to get the major Hollywood studios involved.

“I believe they’ll participate in it both to get equity and as a marketing tool… Netflix’s biggest advantage is that they get to have a one-on-one with the consumer, to a certain extent — they get the data,” Kavanaugh said. “For us, because we’re interacting in real time with the consumers as a movie is greenlit… it gives the studios the ability to interact in real time.

“What we’re doing is what I really started at, and should have focused on throughout my career. We started in financial products in entertainment, which is something there was none of,” he added. “I used to joke around that we were the bridge between Hollywood and Wall Street because literally I could put a banker and a studio head together and they were not speaking the same language.”