Annapurna exploring bankruptcy, THR says

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Annapurna Pictures, one of the studios involved with Bond 25, is exploring bankruptcy, The Hollywood Reporter said.

The studio “has retained a law firm to explore bankruptcy protection,” the entertainment trade publication/website reported, citing “multiple sources.”

Annapurna and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer are partners in United Artists Releasing. UA will release Bond 25 in the United States in April 2020. Universal will handle international distribution.

Annapurna was founded by tech heiress Megan Ellison in 2011. It added a distribution operation of its own before joining forces with MGM to form United Artists Releasing.

“But perhaps the biggest looking question is the fate of the James Bond franchise,” THR said of a possible Annapurna bankruptcy. “Annapurna has at least a 50 percent stake in United Artists Releasing. …How Annapurna’s cash flow issues will effect the MGM tentpole’s release will be determined.”

Annapurna is in a cash crunch after a series of money-losing films.

With a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, a company is granted protection from creditors while it devises an operating plan. Such plans are subject to approval by a bankruptcy court. MGM filed for Chapter 11 in 2010 and it reorganized while in bankruptcy court. It exited bankruptcy without a distribution operation. Forming the United Artists Releasing joint venture was a way for it to get back into distribution.

UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter updated its story. First it added this sentence related to Bond 25: “An MGM source says there would be no impact on the release of any its titles including Bond.”

The outlet (along with others) included the text of an email Megan Ellison sent to Annapurna employees. Here’s the text via THR:

Restructuring deals with financial institutions is not uncommon, yet the process is usually handled without a spotlight on it. Fortunately/unfortunately, people like to write about me and my family.

That said, it is of tremendous importance to me that you all know we are as committed as ever to this company and are in full support of our future.

Regardless of whatever comes out in the press, the truth is that we are well on our continued path towards success. There will always be speculation, misinformation and personal jabs in the press – that’s part of the business.

But know, none of that matters to me. What does is your sense of security and protecting the special community and culture at Annapurna. I believe in what we make and have no intention of stopping any time soon.

We have a lot of exciting things on the horizon and I have no doubt all of our hard work will continue to show Annapurna’s unique and powerful place in this industry.

If you have any questions or want to talk, please do not hesitate to reach out.

It should be noted that’s not the hardest denial. THR said Annapurna had hired a law firm to look into bankruptcy. Ellison didn’t specifically deny that.

UPDATE II (Aug. 8) — Deadline Hollywood has more details. The entertainment website says Annapurna “has burned through much of the $350 million credit facility the company secured in fall 2017. Those sources said Annapurna has either defaulted or is about to default on that debt. A deadline has been set by lenders for this week to come to a solution.”

Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle and Megan Ellison’s father, may bail out Annapurna, according to Deadline. But the tech mogul is being a tough negotiator and preparations are being made to file for Chapter 11 in either California or Delaware if no deal is struck, Deadline reported.

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