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Ryan Kavanaugh's Theory of Relativity

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His relaxed manner and easy charm are a striking contrast to the scope of his ambition; after all, it's hard not to be slightly taken aback by a man who compares himself even tangentially to Einstein.

But with investments in more than 100 feature films, including "Hancock," "Mamma Mia!" and "Salt," Kavanaugh is just beginning: He recently absorbed Overture Films from Starz (contrary to reports that he paid $10 million for the division, he simply assumed the overhead); and he aims to move away from co-financing other studios' films, in which he has invested hundreds of millions, toward producing and releasing only his own.

Surrounded by posters, memorabilia and a snow-globe collection, it's hard not to see him as an incipient Citizen Kane, though a far more laid-back one.

If there is any Rosebud to Kavanaugh's career, it lies with his family and their Holocaust roots.

Along with a string on his wrist, given him by a natural healer, and two braided bracelets, the only jewelry he wears is a chain made from gold that his late grandmother somehow kept hidden while in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where she was interred during World War II.

"I think back to my grandmother, 14 years old in a concentration camp," Kavanaugh reflects, "and say, 'Yeah -- and I'm worried about this director who's threatening to walk off a movie?!' "