Dumb Money No More: How Did David Ellison Become a Hollywood High Flyer?


The equity deals with Redbird and CJ Entertainment valued Skydance at approximately $2.3 billion. At its current pace of growth — revenue is expected to increase by more than 40 percent this year compared to last year, the company said — Skydance could be worth $5 billion or more in a few years. Mr. Ellison is most likely to make a sale or initial public offering at that time.

Skydance could quickly become an acquisition target. after Amazon buys MGM for $8.45 billion, content engines with access to established intellectual property, Skydance included, are hot prospects. Even if Skydance splits from Paramount next year, the deal that expires gives Skydance an incredible advantage: the continued right to invest in the Paramount franchise with which Skydance is already involved. “Star Trek”. “Impossible Goal.” “Jack Ryan.” “GI Joe.” “top Gun.”

Comcast, which needs to promote its Peacock streaming service, could be a buyer. So did Apple, who could consider taking on MGM. This spring, Skydance received feelers from a special-purpose acquisition corporation, or SPAC, led by former Disney streaming chief Kevin A. Meyer.

“It’s true that we’ve had some interesting conversations recently, but our growth curve is still significant and if we work hard and stay accommodating that could give us a lot more choice in the future,” said Mr. Ellison. That said, feel more like an MBA graduate than a budding entertainment tycoon.

Skydance has massive expansion plans. Amy Hennig, former senior creative executive at Electronic Arts, is building a video game division. Another department focuses on virtual-reality content. Mr. Ellison recently hired Luis Fernandez, a 20-year-old Disney veteran, to start a consumer products business. But Skydance’s future depends on scripted content and the extent to which it can fabricate pay-dirt movie and television franchises as a whole, as it appears to have done with “The Old Guard.”

Some in Hollywood doubt that Skydance has the creative expertise to pull it off. Mr. Ellison and his team have excelled at putting projects together (29 movies and television series were sold to streaming services in two years). But the execution – the quality – has been inconsistent. And quality matters: Skydance-produced”6 underground,” an action comedy directed by Michael Bay, became a blockbuster in late 2019 garnering views from 83 million Netflix accounts. But the film also received . less-than-stellar reviews, piqued Netflix’s interest in a sequel.

A stream of well-reviewed original hits would force Hollywood to finally take Mr. Ellison seriously as a creative force.



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