Ryan Kavanaugh Steps Back at Relativity Media, Dana Brunetti Exits as President

THR_Ryan Kavanaugh_20160924-RyanKavanaugh1528 - H 2016
Christopher Patey

THR_Ryan Kavanaugh_20160924-RyanKavanaugh1528 - H 2016

The moves come amid a company-wide furlough of its employees and follows YuuZoo's announcement that it bought a stake in Relativity two months ago.

Ryan Kavanaugh is stepping back from his involvement at Relativity Media, according to sources familiar with the situation. It is unclear whether Kavanaugh has actually resigned, with one source saying that the CEO has yet to tender a letter of resignation.  

Dana Brunetti, the producer of such films as The Social Network, Captain Phillips and Fifty Shades of Grey who joined Relativity as its president in January, is leaving to resume his producing career.

A Relativity spokesperson confirmed Brunetti's exit as president, saying that Brett Dahl, an exec at the company who is credited as one of the executive producers of Masterminds, would take over as president of production, but the spokesperson did not directly address Kavanaugh's status, although a statement about the situation suggested Kavanaugh remains in charge.

The statement issued on behalf of Relativity read: "Dana has transitioned to a production deal with Relativity, but any reports that Ryan and he are feuding, or have any issues, or that there has been any dispute between them is simpliy not true. The company, Dana and Ryan agreed that Dana's greatest value add to the company is tomake the movies he wants to, giving him flexibility to make filmshe enjoys. Dana remains a large shareholder of Relativity and still has a deal there. Brett Dahl has taken over as President of Production, and Dana, Brett and Ryan will be working closely together going forward."

Kavanaugh founded the production company 12 years ago, serving as its chairman and CEO, only to see it forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. The embattled company emerged from bankruptcy protection in April, but has continued to face financial constraints. In October, Singapore's YuuZoo, a social e-commerce network operator, announced it was buying a 33 percent stake in Relativity. Then, in November, Relativity said it was entering a $200 million production pact with startup studio Storyscopic Films to produce and finance five or more family-friendly films per year.

Kavanaugh's latest move comes amid reports that the company's 30-plus employees have been placed on furlough during the Christmas and New Years break, which ends on Jan. 3, when normal business operations are supposed to resume — and will not receive pay during that period.

According to one source, Kavanaugh, who has not been at the company's Beverly Hills offices in recent weeks, did not take part in the decision to furlough workers, which may be part of YuuZoo's attempt to integrate the company with its own operations. Thomas Zilliacus, YuuZoo CEO, did not respond to a request for comment.

Relativity's first wide release post-bankruptcy, Masterminds, was released in September and floundered at the box office. The Zach Galifianakis-starrer grossed slightly more than $17 million during its theatrical run.

Dec. 21, 10:25 a.m.: Updated to include news of Dana Brunetti's departure.
Dec. 21, 1:15 p.m.: Updated to include Relativity statement.