Independent Studio Known for R-Rated Art Flicks Is in Financial Trouble
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
Annapurna Pictures debuted in 2011 and since then delivered niche movies like AMERICAN HUSTLE, SPRING BREAKERS as well as the extremely vulgar animated movie SAUSAGE PARTY. Now eight years later, Annapurna and the company’s head Megan Ellison, find themselves in financial trouble after its aggressive move into the distribution space.
The first four movies Annapurna distributed didn’t bode well with audiences and didn’t even break $20 million at the box office: SORRY TO BOTHER YOU ($17.5million), DETROIT ($16.8), BRAD’S STATUS ($2.1), PROFESSOR MARSTON &THE WONDER WOMAN ($1.6 million). As Variety affirms, “The company has racked up hundreds of millions of dollars of losses over the years, due to some significant box-office misses, including last month’s release of the John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix Western THE SISTERS BROTHERS, on which the studio was a participant. The movie cost close to $40 million to produce and has only grossed $757,000 to date.” THE SISTERS BROTHERS adds yet another major box office loss like the aforementioned movies, further contributing to the financial strain.
Fortunately for the studio’s sake, Ellison has good connections. Her father, Larry Ellison, is worth a whopping $60 billion due to his entrepreneurial ventures, and he invested $200 million into Annapurna, giving him a large stake in the company. A source close to Variety mentions that Larry is committed to helping his daughter’s studio get out of their rut, although yesterday Annapurna, “insisted that there are no issues with the financial health of the company.”
Interestingly enough, Larry is a conservative and seems hesitant to back politically sensitive movies like the upcoming movie about Fox News founder, Roger Ailes’ sexual harassment debacle. Two days ago, Collider.com reported that the political flick which was going to star Nicole Kidman was dropped by the studio.
Annapurna is facing complications from not making a substantial profit and perhaps poor financial strategy, with the latter being purely speculative. Movieguide® frequently warns studios that neglecting faith and family audiences, and only doing R-rated niche movies will mean bad business. Out of the twenty-eight movies released or currently in production for Annapurna, over half of their roster is R-rated.
Digging a bit deeper, our review of Annapurna’s recent movie, THE SISTER BROTHERS, shows that the movie has excessive violence and language and as the ticket sales show, that doesn’t always work out in a studio’s favor. However, we’ll have to keep following the story as news progresses to see if Annapurna falls under this category.