Ryan Kavanaugh

Ryan Colin Kavanaugh (born December 4, 1974) is an American businessman, film producer and film financier. He is the founder and former CEO of Relativity Media and a current executive of Warner Bros. Pictures (since 2018).[1][2] Through Relativity, he has financed more than 200 films representing more than $17 billion in revenue[3][4][5] He is credited as of April 19, 2014 as the producer of 61 films[6] and known for creating a new "Moneyball" model of film finance.[7] He was named by Variety as 2011's "Showman of the Year"[8] and was #22 on the Fortune 40 Under 40 list.[9] He was #19 on the Forbes 2013 list of youngest billionaires,[10] and he entered an investment partnership with Ron Burkle. He is active in philanthropy and was named a Hollywood Humanitarian by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.[11] He is the 25th highest grossing producer in box office of all time.[12]

Ryan Kavanaugh
Ryan Kavanaugh2.PNG
Kavanaugh in 2013
Ryan Colin Kavanaugh

December 4, 1974 (1974-12-04) (age 45)
Los Angeles, California, United States
OccupationCEO of Relativity Media, financier
EmployerWarner Bros.
Known forMoneyball approach to film finance, philanthropy, and wealth
Britta Lazenga
(m. 2011; div. 2014)

Jessica Roffey (m. 2015)

Early lifeEdit

Kavanaugh was born to a Jewish family[13][14] in Los Angeles, California, where he was raised in the Brentwood neighborhood, and attended Brentwood High School. His mother, Leslie (Levin),[15] is a real estate broker, and his father, Jack Konitz, a dentist turned businessman, was born in Germany and later changed his surname to "Kavanaugh" before his son's birth.[16][17] After attending UCLA, Kavanaugh founded a small venture capital firm, which struggled in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks and was eventually wound up.[4]


Relativity MediaEdit

Kavanaugh founded Relativity Media after briefly serving as a consultant to other small businesses and venture capitalists.[4] In the late 1990s, he asked his father for a $50,000 loan to start his own hedge fund; his father declined, but this did not dissuade Ryan, whose aim was to use mathematical tools to connect financing and movie projects in a more efficient manner than traditional Hollywood finance. At Relativity, he created what is now known as "the model", a monte carlo model designed to predict the odds of a given film being successful. No film at Relativity is given a green light unless the model predicts a high probability of profitability. During Relativity's first year of operation, Kavanaugh executed what was considered to be an innovative finance deal for Marvel Studios which led them to create the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kavanaugh went on to structure business deals for such companies as: Sony Pictures, Universal, Paramount, Warner Bros. Pictures, among many others. Kavanaugh has acquired a number of assets, including the marketing and distribution operations of John Malone's Liberty Media/Starz film unit Overture Films, and reaching a first of its kind TV pay deal with Netflix.[4]

Kavanaugh forged a marketing, promotional, and production partnership with Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Mobile and Virgin Produced, in which Relativity owns a stake. Kavanaugh also brokered a cross-platform marketing partnership with Clear Channel Radio. He was also instrumental in launching Relativity's partnership with China's Huaxia Film Distribution Co. Ltd. to become equal partners in Sky Land Entertainment with private-equity firm SAIF Partners and IDG China Media to handle production and distribution of films in China and U.S.

Relativity has produced, distributed, and/or structured financing for more than 200 motion pictures, generating more than $17 billion in worldwide box office revenue and earning 60 Oscar nominations.[3][18] In 2012, Kavanaugh brokered a deal in which billionaire Ron Burkle will partner with Relativity and invest $800 million in the company.[19] As Chairman and the largest shareholder, Kavanaugh will retain control of Relativity and control the majority of the board of directors of Relativity.[20] In 2013, Relativity Media expanded into television (Relativity Television), Sports Management (Relativity Sports) and Digital Content (Relativity Digital), with the aim of leverage divisions to create a global media company.[5]

On July 30, 2015, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[21] Kavanaugh stepped down as CEO at the end of 2016.[22] In May 2018 the company filed for bankruptcy a second time.[22]

Films producedEdit

Kavanaugh has produced such films as Immortals, Limitless, The Fighter, Mirror Mirror, Safe Haven, and Beyond the Lights. He executive produced The Social Network, which received eight Oscar nominations. His other films include Mamma Mia!, 3:10 to Yuma, Grown Ups and Dear John.[23] He was denied the producing credit of the film The Fighter since the Academy only allows three producers to be named in the credit.[24][25]

Despite Kavaugh's "Moneyball" approach to film making, he turned down a chance to invest in the actual movie Moneyball, citing the model's prediction that sports movies are often commercial failures.[26]

Honors and awardsEdit

Kavanaugh was honored with the 2009 Hollywood Producer of the Year Award at the 13th Annual Hollywood Awards Gala[27] and Daily Variety published a special issue honoring Kavanaugh as a "Billion Dollar Producer". In 2010, The Hollywood Reporter bestowed the Leadership Award to Kavanaugh and the Daily Reporter dedicated a special issue in his honor as a "Billion Dollar Producer".[28] He was named Variety's Showman of the Year, 2011.[29]

Kavanaugh was 21st on Fortune's 40 Under 40 Most Influential People in Business in 2010[30] and in Forbes' Future 400: Ones To Watch. [1][28] He also serves on the boards of other charitable foundations such as Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors and as Chairman of The Art of Elysium.[31]

Personal lifeEdit

Kavanaugh currently resides in Malibu, California. In 1998, he married makeup artist Tracy Tanner.[citation needed] In 2011, he married ballet dancer Britta Lazenga.[32] They divorced in 2014.[33] The bachelor party was thrown by actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Bradley Cooper.[34] In 2015, Kavanaugh married model Jessica Roffey.[35] He is a member of the Wilshire Boulevard Temple.[36] He practices Transcendental Meditation twice a day.[37]


Kavanaugh recently became involved in dog rescue through his acquisition of FreeHand, saying that "We hope this will become a staple of Hollywood, and if you are not involved in this, then you're not promoting social good amongst the animal world."[38] He has been recognized for his charitable work by organizations including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, whose Board of Governors honored him as the sole winner of the 2010 Hollywood Humanitarian Award;[11] the Sheriff's Youth Foundation, which presented him with its Community Champion Award in recognition of his outstanding dedication to inner-city young people;[39] and by First Star for his dedication to improving life for child victims of abuse and neglect.

Kavanaugh was honored with the 2011 Entertainment Industry Award by the Anti-Defamation League, a group committed to fighting anti-Semitism and bigotry of all kinds.[39] The award is given to individuals who demonstrate leadership and extraordinary innovation in the entertainment industry. Kavanaugh serves as the Chairman of the Board for The Art of Elysium, an organization that encourages actors, artists and musicians to voluntarily dedicate their time and talent to children who are battling serious medical conditions.[40]

Hacking of Sony accounts in late 2014 revealed that Kavanaugh had sent an email to actresses including Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, telling them to join him in taking action against what he saw as increased antisemitism which could end up as "another Hollacast" [sic].[41]


  • "Do you know how many people saw The Assassination of Jesse James? You and seven other people. Paul Blart grossed nearly $200 million worldwide. I'll take Paul Blart all day, every day."[1]
  • "Giving actors $20 million for a movie that loses money is like giving bonuses to the CEOs of bankrupt companies."[1]
  • "Everything has to run on the principle of profit. We'll never let creative decisions rule our business decisions. If it doesn't fit the model, it doesn't get done."[7]


  1. ^ a b c d Jones, Chris. "Ryan Kavanaugh Uses Math to Make Movies". 2009 Best and Brightest. Esquire. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  2. ^ DiGiacomo, Frank. "The Theory of Relativity". Vanity Fair. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Magdevsk, Sonja. "Ryan Kavanaugh: The Fall and Rise". Malibu. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Forbes: "Why Ryan Kavanaugh Is Now The Most-Watched Man In Hollywood" by Dorothy Pomerantz May 6, 2013;
  6. ^ "Ryan Kavanaugh IMDb profile". Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Fischer, Russ. "Producer Ryan Kavanaugh Brings Moneyball Tactics to Filmmaking". Slashfilm. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  8. ^ "2011 Showman of the Year". Variety. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  9. ^ "40 under 40: #22; Ryan Kavanaugh profile". money.cnn.com. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  10. ^ Solomon, Brian (March 4, 2013). "Youngest Billionaires of 2013". Forbes. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Cedars-Sinai Board of Governors. "Board of Governors Gala". Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  12. ^ "People Index". Box Office Mojo.
  13. ^ Jewish Journal: "A fundraising feast for Relativity's Ryan Kavanaugh at ADL's annual entertainment dinner" by Danielle Berrin, October 12, 2011; accessed March 18, 2014.
  14. ^ Variety Magazine: "Jewish is the new red", October 15, 2011; accessed March 18, 2014. "Usually the person standing here is a Jew. I always get the question — Ryan Kavanaugh, red hair — but I'm here once again to assure you I'm Jewish on both sides ... until my mom admits she had an affair with the milkman or the mailman I will stay Jewish on both sides."
  15. ^ http://www.californiabirthindex.org/birth/ryan_c_kavanaugh_born_1974_12292835
  16. ^ Ryan Kavanaugh profile, ft.com; accessed March 18, 2014.
  17. ^ Ryan Kavanaugh profile, vanityfair.com; accessed March 18, 2014.
  18. ^ Allegrezza, Ray. "Film producer Kavanaugh invests $25M in nuMobilia". Furniture Today. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  19. ^ Bond, Paul. "Ron Burkle Closes Multiple Investments in Relativity Media". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  20. ^ Block, Alex Ben. "Ryan Kavanaugh Lawyer Threatens New Yorker Over 'Egregious' Ron Burkle profile (exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  21. ^ Patten, Dominic; Fleming, Mike, Jr. (30 July 2015). "Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media Finally Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy". Deadline.com. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  22. ^ a b Maddaus, Gene (2018-06-06). "Ex-Relativity CEO Ryan Kavanaugh Paid Himself $2.6 Million as Company Struggled". Variety. Retrieved 2018-11-28.
  23. ^ "Ryan Kavanaugh profile". imdb.com. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  24. ^ Fernandez, Sofia M. "Ryan Kavanaugh Loses AMPAS Appeal for 'Fighter' Producer Credit". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  25. ^ Sperling, Nicole (2011-01-13). "Ryan Kavanaugh denied producing credit on 'The Fighter'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  26. ^ Jones, Chris. "Wrench in the machine". ESPN: The Magazine. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
  27. ^ "HOLLYWOOD FEST". Hollywood Awards. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  28. ^ a b Visual Hollywood. "The Immortals (crew)". About the Filmmakers. Visual Hollywood. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  29. ^ Lodderhose, Diane; McNary, Dave (2011-05-23). "Auction Fever". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  30. ^ "40 Under 40 Business's hottest rising stars (profile)". Fortune/CNN. November 1, 2010. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  31. ^ Ryan Kavanaugh Collects Honor From Anti-Defamation League, Joshua (September 13, 2011). "Weinstein". Reuters. Retrieved November 29, 2012.
  32. ^ Turner, Lauren. "Leo, Bradley, Gerard, and More Celebrate Producer Ryan Kavanaugh's Capri Wedding!". Popsugar. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  33. ^ New York Post: "Hollywood mogul Ryan Kavanaugh divorcing" By Ian Mohr January 16, 2014
  34. ^ "LEO AND BRADLEY TAKE OFF FOR A GUYS-ONLY PARTY IN CABO!". PopSugar. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  35. ^ People: Inside Hollywood Mogul Ryan Kavanaugh's Star-Studded Wedding to Model Jessica Roffey, March 2015; accessed March 18, 2015.
  36. ^ Hollywood Reporter: "Hollywood's Hottest $150 Million Project Is an 83-Year-Old Synagogue - Studio heads, agency chieftains and top producers have come together, "Avengers"-style, to save their iconic but decaying Wilshire Boulevard Temple -- an A-list house of worship far from the Westside" by Gary Baum May 30, 2012
  37. ^ Tatiana Siegel (2011-05-13). "Life of Ryan – Variety". Variety.com. Retrieved 2019-01-22.
  38. ^ Block, Alex Ben (February 13, 2013). "Relativity's Ryan Kavanaugh Buys Dog Food Company". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 11, 2013.
  39. ^ a b TheWrap. "Ryan Kavanaugh Collects Honor from Anti-Defamation League". MSN Entertainment. Archived from the original on January 3, 2013. Retrieved September 17, 2012.
  40. ^ Relativity Media website; accessed March 18, 2014.
  41. ^ "Sony hacking: Natalie Portman reluctantly embroiled in lengthy email exchange about anti-Semitism and Gaza". The Independent. December 24, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2014.

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