“So they have to feed the beast, and they then have to carry this massive overhead prematurely, which, in turn, forces them to make decisions and push through films they otherwise might not have.” But is Annapurna really like Miramax, as so many people around town say?
“People compare them to Miramax, but [that company] didn’t make all of those movies,” says Fields.
“It’s good to have a dad who is a mega-billionaire,” says one entrepreneur and producer.
It was during this time in the mid 1980s that it earned two Best Picture wins with Miloš Forman’s Amadeus and Oliver Stone’s Platoon.But after a string of costly flops, Orion started to fail as the company found itself having to continue to pay out large salaries and overhead, whether it had product to take to market or not.In only a few short years, Megan Ellison—who started up Annapurna in 2011—has taken a small, vibrant, indie production company and methodically turned it into an impressive mini-major.Those in town are comparing Annapurna to the heyday of Harvey and Bob Weinstein’s Miramax, which dominated the ’90s, but a more appropriate analogy might be Orion Pictures, the prestige indie outfit of the ’80s.She also established her own TV division as well, hiring former HBO Entertatinment President Sue Naegle.
Megan Ellison’s father is Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison, and with that comes deep—very deep—pockets.
While Orion Pictures is a cautionary tale for Annapurna, the five year old company seems to be moving much slower and steadier.
“I think she’s really smart and has done a good job in growing her business,” says producer Mike Medavoy, co-founder of Orion and current producer of The Promise starring Christian Bale and Oscar Isaac. The first movie that Annapurna will market and distribute on its own will be from its Zero Dark Thirty team Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal—Detroit, about the city’s 1967 race riots—which drops on Aug. “I think the mistake that most independents make is that they immediately hire and put together marketing and distribution departments before they have movies to put into the market place,” says producer Adam Fields, a former executive at Miramax.
Ellison is financing, acquiring and producing high-quality fare with cutting-edge filmmakers.
Initially, Annapurna financed and produced films and then distributed them through others, but since hiring away executives from The Weinstein Company and Fox, Ellison has now built her own marketing and distribution departments for her slate.
“My experience with that company—which was several years ago—was very good.