How David Ellison Built Skydance Into Hollywood’s Smart Bet


The fairness take care of RedBird and CJ Entertainment valued Skydance at about $2.3 billion. At its present tempo of progress — income is predicted to extend greater than 40 p.c this year in contrast with final, the company mentioned — Skydance might be value $5 billion or extra in a couple of years. Mr. Ellison would almost certainly pursue a sale or an preliminary public providing at that time.

Skydance may shortly turn out to be an acquisition goal. After Amazon’s $8.45 billion buy of MGM, content material engines with entry to established mental property, Skydance included, are scorching prospects. Even if Skydance elements methods with Paramount subsequent year, the expiring deal provides Skydance an unimaginable perk: the persevering with proper to spend money on the Paramount franchises with which Skydance is already concerned. “Star Trek.” “Mission: Impossible.” “Jack Ryan.” “G.I. Joe.” “Top Gun.”

Comcast, which wants to spice up its Peacock streaming service, might be a purchaser. So may Apple, which thought-about choosing up MGM. This spring, Skydance acquired feelers from a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, led by Kevin A. Mayer, Disney’s former streaming chief.

“It’s true that we have had some interesting conversations lately, but our growth curve is still significant and if we keep working hard and stay adaptive that should afford us a lot of optionality in the future,” Mr. Ellison mentioned, sounding extra like an M.B.A. graduate than a budding leisure tycoon.

Skydance has wide-ranging enlargement plans. Amy Hennig, a former senior artistic govt at Electronic Arts, is constructing a online game division. Another division focuses on virtual-reality content material. Mr. Ellison lately employed Luis Fernández, a 20-year Disney veteran, to start out a client merchandise business. But Skydance’s future rests on scripted content material and the diploma to which it will probably create pay-dirt film and tv franchises out of complete fabric, because it seems to have carried out with “The Old Guard.”

Some individuals in Hollywood stay skeptical that Skydance has the artistic experience to tug it off. Mr. Ellison and his crew have excelled at placing initiatives collectively (29 movies and tv sequence offered to streaming companies in two years). But execution — high quality — has been inconsistent. And high quality issues: The Skydance-made “6 Underground,” an motion comedy directed by Michael Bay, drew views from a blockbuster 83 million Netflix accounts in late 2019. But the film additionally acquired less-than-stellar reviews, lessening Netflix’s curiosity in a sequel.

A stream of well-reviewed unique hits would pressure Hollywood to lastly take Mr. Ellison severely as a artistic energy.


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