Packer sells out of RatPac: Vale the most powerful
Australian in Hollywood -
19th April 2017
text advertisement here from as little as $100USD
per 12 months
Ratner and James Packer helped create RatPac in 2013.
Photo: Dom Lorrimer
we think of Australians who have made it in Hollywood,
it's usually the actors who spring to mind: Hugh Jackman,
Cate Blanchett, Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe, Geoffrey
Rush and the scores of younger stars who have followed
in their trailblazing footsteps.
more studious might perhaps be able to name a few
directors the pioneering Peter Weir, Fred Schepisi,
Gillian Armstrong, Phil Noyce and Bruce Beresford;
the blockbuster helmers George Miller and Baz Luhrmann;
the new breed that includes Patrick Hughes, James
Wan and Joel Edgerton.
who, when pressed to identify the most powerful Australian
in Hollywood, would think immediately of James Packer?
In all likelihood, only those who read the trades.
short of Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation owns
Fox, no other Australian has left such a mark on the
business as has Packer, and certainly not in such
a short space of time.
Hollywood adventure that began less than four years
ago has now come to an end with the sale of his stake
in RatPac Entertainment, the company he launched in
2013 with director-producer Brett Ratner (Rush Hour,
X-Men: The Last Stand).
has sold his stake to Access, a multi-industry
conglomerate headed by Ukraine-born, London-based
Len Blavatnik, Britain's richest man for an
undisclosed sum, and for reasons we can only guess
at. If I were a betting man, I'd be putting some money
on "cash-flow issues related to a downturn in
the casino business", though given Packer's history
of blow-ups I might also put a small stake on "rumoured
breakdown of relationship with Ratner".
big a deal was Packer? Well, RatPac didn't just produce
films and TV, it also partnered with former Wall Street
banker Steve Mnuchin now Donald Trump's Treasury
Secretary to provide finance for the Warner
Bros production slate. And it is arguably this deal
that made him one of the biggest players in Hollywood.
deal RatPac-Dune struck was to provide $US450 million
to finance of up to 75 films; according to reports,
$US300 million of that was in loans, the rest in equity,
which suggests a major punt on Packer's part.
to the company's website, RatPac has to date funded
more than 50 films, with a combined box office of
more than $US10 billion.
have been hits and misses, but RatPac could hardly
have got off to a better start: the first film it
helped finance was Gravity, which took $US723 million
globally on a budget of $US100 million, winning seven
Oscars including best director (it was pipped
for best picture by 12 Years a Slave) along
deals, and the credits that come with them, are complicated,
but James Packer is listed on imdb as a producer or
executive producer on 24 titles, starting with The
Lego Movie in 2014 and ending with the still-in-production
second sequel, The Lego Ninjago Movie.
the plus side of the ledger, his credits include Jersey
Boys, Black Mass, The Revenant and, depending how
you feel about Russell Crowe, The Water Diviner. On
the not-so-successful side of the ledger, there's
the Colin Farrell stinker Winter's Tale (Crowe was
in that one too; mateship clearly has its costs) and
Warren Beatty's Rules Don't Apply, which opens in
Australia this week.
the funding facility, RatPac Dune is involved in upcoming
titles including Wonder Woman, Guy Ritchie's update
of King Arthur and Christopher Nolan's epic WW2 drama
Dunkirk, all of which should be strong performers.
though, the Hollywood dream is over.
was first reported to be looking to offload his stake
in RatPac back in February, though a company spokesperson
denied the rumour. The previous month, Steve Mnuchin
had announced he would divest his holding in Dune
if confirmed as Treasury Secretary, to avoid any conflicts
of interest. Still, that didn't stop him getting into
hot water last month for telling a room full of reporters
to "send all your kids to Lego Batman".
things between Packer and Ratner really have deteriorated,
Mnuchin no longer playing the role of buffer may have
been a factor in his desire to exit the business.
failed romance with Mariah Carey aside, as a Hollywood
mogul Packer has generally avoided the spotlight.
From our position outside the tent, it's hard to know
to what degree, if any, he was a creative force in
RatPac's development slate. But as a money man, he
was no doubt a player.
can, with good reason, decry an industry in which
it is the depth of a man's pockets rather than the
breadth of his imagination that elevates his standing
in what we still call, with less and less justification,
a creative industry. But in a town where money speaks,
James Packer was heard, loud and clear.
you think of him, let's take a moment to acknowledge
that, for a brief moment at least, the big man was
the biggest Australian in Hollywood.
Sydney Morning Herald)