When Amy Adams accepted the Golden Globe Award for her performance in “American Hustle” last night, she made sure to thank Megan Ellison from the stage.
So did Spike Jonze, the writer-director of “Her,” who won the award for best screenplay. Ellison, the 27-year-old daughter of Oracle Corp. (ORCL:US) billionaire Larry Ellison, invested in the films through her Los Angeles-based Annapurna Pictures and is credited as a producer of both.
The wins punctuate Ellison’s ascent in Hollywood. Backed by her father’s fortune, she received her first producing credit in 2010, according to the Internet Movie Database, a research website. Since then she’s produced films including “Zero Dark Thirty” and “True Grit,” both nominated for Academy Awards.
“They’re trying to build a company,” said Robert Marich, author of “Marketing to Moviegoers.” The diversity of the choices shows ‘‘there’s not a particular theme or message.’’
Annapurna was founded to make “sophisticated, high-quality films that might otherwise be deemed risky by contemporary Hollywood studios,” according to its website.
With that strategy, commercial success is a challenge. The 2012 release “The Master,” loosely based on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, failed to recoup its $32 million production cost in theaters, according to Imdb.com. The movie’s actors, including Philip Seymour Hoffman, garnered three Oscar nominations.
Ellison is following in the footsteps of other rich Americans who have tried their hands in filmmaking, from Howard Hughes and Joe Kennedy to Mark Cuban.
“There’s something very glamorous obviously about Hollywood,” said Richard Walter, a film professor at the University of California at Los Angeles. “They’re slumming.”
Annapurna’s biggest box-office hit is the 2010 release “True Grit,” a remake of the John Wayne movie featuring Jeff Bridges in the title role of Rooster Cogburn.
The picture, written and directed by brothers Joel and Ethan Coen, cost $38 million to make and took in worldwide ticket sales of $252 million, according to Box Office Mojo, another research website. Studios and their partners typically split the revenue with theaters, with the studio also bearing marketing expenses.
“American Hustle,” about a 1970s-era FBI sting, cost $40 million and has collected $119 million in sales so far, while “Her,” featuring Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with the sultry voice of a computer operating system, was expanded to more theaters last weekend and has $8.8 million in total revenue, according to Box Office Mojo.
Ellison declined to comment, according to an e-mail from her spokeswoman, Bebe Lerner.
In a Jan. 7 posting on Twitter, Ellison quoted from “Spring Breakers,” a film she helped produce last year.
“Some kids ... some little kids they wanna grow up to be president, some kids wanna grow up and be doctor y’know? I just wanted to be bad,” she wrote.
Publicity from the Golden Globes will drive fans to the theater as attention turns to the Oscars, according to Phil Contrino, editor of BoxOffice.com. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announces the Oscar nominations on Jan. 16, with the awards scheduled for March 2.
Ellison’s future projects include a reboot of the “Terminator” movie series with her brother, David Ellison, whose Skydance Productions has emerged as a production and co-financing partner with Viacom Inc. (VIAB:US)’s Paramount Pictures.
Both siblings attended film school at the University of Southern California, according to a March 2013 article in Vanity Fair, which reported Megan Ellison has received at least $200 million from her father and as much as $2 billion.
Neither number is correct, according to Lerner, who declined to elaborate.
This year, Annapurna will release “Foxcatcher,” based on the autobiography of champion Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz, whose brother, a fellow champ, was murdered by a member of the Du Pont family. Channing Tatum and Steve Carell are featured.
Ellison’s interests extend to real estate, like her father, who bought the Hawaiian island of Lanai in 2012 and owns swaths of Malibu in Southern California as part of his estimated $43.6 billion fortune.
Megan Ellison spent $20 million on a mansion and $10 million on adjacent land to create a 9-acre mountaintop estate in the Hollywood Hills, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. Last year, she sold her three-house compound in the same area for about $47 million, earning $14 million in the five years since she bought the first property, the Times said.
From Zillow.com: Megan Ellison Buys $20 Million L.A. Home
At last night’s Golden Globes, Ellison took the stage with the cast and crew of “American Hustle” to collect the statuette for best comedy, one of three wins for the film, which was distributed by Sony Corp.
Backstage, Ellison gave credit to director David O. Russell, calling him “the most amazing filmmaker that I have ever worked with.”
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