Chris Lytton Named COO of Russell Levine, Jeffrey W. Ubben's Route One (Exclusive)
Route One's 'A Walk in the Woods,' starring Robert Redford, makes its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival
Route One Entertainment continues to up its profile, tapping Chris Lytton to serve as chief operating officer.
His arrival comes at busy time for Route One, founded by Russell Levine, who serves as CEO, and activist investor Jeffrey W. Ubben, founder and CEO of ValueAct Capital, a high-profile $16 billion investment fund based in San Francisco (Ubben's involvement in Route One has been relatively quiet until now).
Last year, ValueAct acquired a $1 billion stake in 20th Century Fox last year after Rupert Murdoch's failed bid to buy Warner Bros.
In 2012, Route One invested $20 million in the Seoul-based Union Global Contents Investment Fund, a partnership that includes the South Korean government, Lotte Entertainment and CJ E&M, two of the largest entertainment companies in Asia. The first project Route One financed with UGF is Ken Kwapis' A Walk in Woods, starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. A Walk in the Woods makes its world premiere at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.
Lytton, who was previously COO and general counsel at Exclusive Media Film Group, will use his expertise to deploy capital across film, games, television and other digital opportunities. “He knows the international marketplace, he’s a skilled and respected negotiator and he’s value add in putting together any kind of entertainment investment," said Levine. "He’s the perfect complement to Route One as we continue to leverage our equity financing and build a commercial track record and global brand.”
In addition to UGF, Route One has aligned itself in recent weeks with Bob Simonds' new studio, STX Entertainment, and leading foreign sales company IM Global. Lytton helped closed deals to co-finance Gary Ross' The Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey, and Billy Ray's The Secret in Our Eyes, starring Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman and Chiwetel Ejiofor. Both projects, now in preproduction, are being co-produced by STX, which will handle domestic, and IM Global, which has overseas duties.
"The industry is increasingly aware of Route One's equity capacity and expertise in financing projects," said Lytton. "Route One is taking a smart approach to investing by looking to the global marketplace to source and distribute the best entertainment available, using a venture capital model that has worked extremely well in other industries."
At Exclusive Media, Lytton worked on Ron Howard's Rush, the just-released Woman in Black sequel, the upcoming Charlize Theron thriller Dark Places and Jackie Chan's upcoming Skiptrace.