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Relativity back in business with debt backed by Ron Burkle

May 31, 2012|By Ben Fritz
  • Relativity Media has receieved a much-needed $350-million debt financing led by Ron Burkle.
Relativity Media has receieved a much-needed $350-million debt financing… (Alberto E. Rodriguez )

Independent studio Relativity Media has received a much-needed infusion of cash thanks to its new billionaire patron, Ron Burkle.

The supermarket magnate, who acquired a large minority share in the movie company behind"Immortals"and"Mirror Mirror"in January, anchored a new $350-million debt-financing round that Relativity has finalized.

The money will allow Relativity and its chief executive, Ryan Kavanaugh, to get back into producing movies and start building out the company's 2013 slate.

Short on cash due to a series of flops and a strained relationship with its previous backer, Elliott Management,Relativity had no movies in production from last fall until April, when the Christian Bale thriller "Out of the Furnace" went before cameras.

The company had much riding on two big-budget movies, last October's action film "Immortals" and March's Snow White comedy "Mirror, Mirror," both of which ended up with so-so box-office results.

A $200-million loan last fall from Colbeck Capital, which has close ties to Burkle, allowed Relativity to market and release those films and others such as January's less expensive thriller"Haywire."

Colbeck also led the new debt financing and is a "significant participant," according to a press release.

The new loan will allow it to make a series of upcoming pictures that also include "Safe Haven," an adaptation of the Nicholas Sparks novel that will star Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough. Relativity could also use the funds to release several already completed movies later this year, including the comedy "21 and Over" and the thriller "House at the End of the Street."

As part of the deal, Burkle is joining Relativity's board of directors alongside Kavanaugh, as are Colbeck partners Jason Colodne and Jason Beckman.

"We have been actively involved with and considered acquiring many film studios during the past few years," Burkle said in a statement. "After doing in-depth analysis of Relativity, we determined it is one of the most well-positioned, unique studios poised for growth and structured for today’s unique content environment."

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