Ryan Kavanaugh Explains His Leap Back Into Hollywood With a Big China Deal

Ryan Kavanaugh is back. The movie financier-producer — once a media darling turned pariah after his Relativity Media ended up in bankruptcy, twice — swore three years ago he was leaving Hollywood and never coming back.

Turns out he changed his mind. (Hollywood often has that effect on people.) Always one to zig when others zag, and by anyone’s measure one of the most charming salesmen Hollywood has ever produced, Kavanaugh is back with a new company called Proxima and a big deal he says is worth $250 million to make American films in China.

Which is weird enough, since this news arrives just as China and the U.S. are in the midst of a massive trade war and as movie coproductions involving the two countries have stagnated for at least two years.

With relations between the two world powers at a low ebb, Kavanaugh said he’s found a point of entry in Hong Kong, the former British territory now under the authority of Beijing but with a Western-style approach to business. Hong Kong wants to get on the map as a cultural hub, and a recent adjustment to Chinese regulations allows movies made there to be distributed in China without regard to any quotas on overseas content.

Also Read: Ryan Kavanaugh’s New Company Announces $250 Million Injection for US Film Production

I spoke to Kavanaugh by phone on Thursday after he’d spent a day touring the China’s National Arts Studio, a physical studio boasting a 100-square-mile ranch an hour from Hong Kong in which he said he’s becoming a 25% stakeholder.

He was joined on his tour by Carrie Lam, a politician who has served as Hong Kong’s chief executive since 2017, to negotiate what terms the government would give the studio to help catapult it to premiere tourist status, providing infrastructure and other incentives to boost plans for a major theme park.

“We’ll have a studio for the first time that doubles as a home where you can make a $100 million movie from beginning through postproduction that will cost 30% less than shooting anywhere else,” Kavanaugh said, with his trademark excitement over a new deal on the horizon.

He said that movies shot in Hong Kong, even fully American productions, now fall outside the 34-movie quota for U.S.-made films. “If it’s a Hong Kong-based production, it falls out of quota. It’s automatically accepted as a Chinese production. Any movie we make there, because it’s based in Hong Kong, it’s accepted in the Chinese system,” he said. “That saves money for the Americans, creates jobs for China, creates production revenue in China and American revenue by means of the box office and other windows. Everyone wins. Amidst this crazy trade war, this is a way that everyone can win.”

Also Read: Ryan Kavanaugh Files $50 Million Suit Against Ex-Relativity Exec Over ‘Misleading’ Arbitration Leak (Exclusive)

A lot has happened since Relativity threw in the towel to bankruptcy three years ago. Harvey Weinstein, the industry’s other swashbuckling maverick, has been disgraced (and awaits a criminal trial). Disney and Fox have merged and become an overwhelmingly dominant force in the studio system. Netflix has become a behemoth. Independent studios like Open Road have failed. The flood of Hollywood executives going to China three and four years ago has slowed to a trickle.

There is less room for a charming rogue like Kavanaugh in a new Hollywood dominated by corporate number-crunchers and big tech. But Kavanaugh has a knack for convincing people, particularly those with deep pockets, to follow him. And while a lot of people have announced plans in China that never came to pass, he’s as convincing as he’s ever been that he’s going to make it work this time.

As for coming back to Hollywood? Not really, Kavanaugh said: “I have put a great team together. I don’t deal with agents. I don’t go to premieres. I won’t be on set. I won’t take credits.”

He added: “I won’t be in ‘the scene.’”


Chris Linn to Depart TruTV, Kevin Reilly Gains Oversight Under New 4-Year Deal

Kevin Reilly is sticking around at WarnerMedia for another four years and adding truTV under his purview, to go along with TNT and TBS, with truTV president Chris Linn departing the company.

The move means that Reilly is now the head of all three of WarnerMedia’s basic cable entertainment networks, to go along with his role as chief content officer for the upcoming streaming service.

“Kevin has a long-standing reputation as an industry leader and his accomplishments throughout his career — and particularly at this company — are remarkable,” said WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. “He will continue to head up our important cable networks as well as oversee the robust content strategy for our new direct-to-consumer streaming service. I look forward to our continued collaboration as we move these valuable WarnerMedia properties forward under Kevin. At the same time, I thank Chris Linn for his leadership and dedication to re-branding and building truTV over the last several years.”

Also Read: TNT’s ‘Snowpiercer’ Adaptation Moves to TBS – Gets 2nd Season Renewal

WarnerMedia is preparing to launch a new streaming service early next year — a beta version will be out at the end of 2019 — that will blend ad-supported and ad-free elements, AT&T chief Randall Stephenson said earlier this week.

Reilly came to Turner to head up TNT and TBS in 2014. During his tenure, TBS has launched “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee,” “Search Party” and “The Last O.G.” while TNT has rolled out dramas “The Alienist,” “I Am the Night” and “Claws.” Under Reilly, Turner has also refashioned “Conan” and set a joint venture with O’Brien’s Team Coco, as well as formed the esports league E-League and the just-announced All Elite Wrestling League.

Reilly is a long-tenured entertainment executive having led both NBC and Fox during his career, as well as cable network FX.

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The CW-Netflix Deal to End, CW Shows to Be Shopped Separately

The eight-year deal between The CW and Netflix is coming to an end, an individual with knowledge of the situation has confirmed to TheWrap.

The deal was struck in 2011 between Netflix and The CW’s parent networks, CBS and Warner Brothers. It was renewed in 2016, but now the parties have decided to part ways. Warner Bros. TV declined TheWrap’s request for comment.

But, that doesn’t mean any CW shows currently on Netflix are going away — “The Flash,” “Riverdale” and “Dynasty,” and any other CW show already on Netflix will remain there, and Netflix will continue to add more seasons for the shows’ remaining lifetimes. The end of the deal means that The CW’s full slate of shows won’t all be guaranteed a spot on Netflix. Moving forward, bids for each individual show will have to be submitted, reflecting the streamer’s move away from output deals and towards cherry-picking specific shows.

Also Read: ‘Batwoman,’ ‘Riverdale’ Spinoff ‘Katy Keene’ and ‘Nancy Drew’ Picked Up to Series by The CW

So where does that leave the CW’s new fall shows, “Batwoman” “Katy Keene” and “Nancy Drew?” According to Deadline, each is being shopped individually to streaming services by their respective studios. Of course, any new deal will still be considered a “library” pact, meaning each show will still have its original run on The CW’s digital platforms, and won’t go up on a streaming service until after the season finale has aired on The CW.

After that, the shows could each end up on different streaming services. That choice will be up to the studios that own each show — “Batwoman” is owned by Warner Bros TV, “Nancy Drew” is owned by CBS TV Studios, and “Katy Keene” is produced and distributed by WBTV.

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