Relativity's Maker Studios Play: Real or Strategic?

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Ynon Kreiz and Ryan Kavanaugh

A source tells THR that Ryan Kavanaugh's studio offered as much as $1 billion, including performance incentives, and later increased its bid. But it is a stun to showcase is interest in the online video space?

This story first appeared in the May 2 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Relativity Media's eleventh-hour attempt to snatch Maker Studios from Disney raised a key question: Was this a serious overture or a stunt to showcase its interest in the online video space? A source tells THR that Ryan Kavanaugh's studio offered as much as $1 billion including performance incentives for the multichannel network April 13, later increasing its bid to $525 million in stock and cash with as much as $500 million in performance bonuses and $75 million to retain key executives.

STORY: Why Disney Bought Maker Studios

Relativity might have seen an opening in former Maker CEO Danny Zappin's legal move to delay a shareholder vote on the sale. A judge denied his motion April 14, also the day Maker, led by executive chair Ynon Kreiz, rejected Relativity's offer because its board and shareholders already had approved the Disney deal, worth as much as $950 million. A source close to the deal says Relativity had no discussions with Maker before submitting its offer, which suggests its real target could be Fullscreen or another suddenly in-demand multichannel network.

After Maker rejected the bid, Relativity said it would "aggressively explore future opportunities that align with our strategy to accelerate digital content creation and distribution."