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Quendrith Johnson


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Megan Ellison: When Tech Money Came to Hollywood & Won

 

by Quendrith Johnson, Los Angeles Correspondent

 

Producer Megan Ellison turns 28 on Jan. 31. So far, her run has been exceptional in Hollywood.

Before you begrudge her as second generation technology money since her father is Billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison, it is important to remember all the brash brass that has come to Hollywood before and made a mess. 

The first of which is second generation moneyman Howard Hughes. His life is depicted for better or worse in Scorsese's opus The Aviator. In real life, besides the worked/reworked Hell's Angels and "discovering" clouded star Jean Harlow, he basically made a name for himself sleeping around town. From Ava Gardner to Bette Davis to Katharine Hepburn, Hughes graduated to a slew of underage starlets.

Then there was one Joseph P. Kennedy, a producer, and ditto on the sleeping around. Followed by his Presidential prodigal son JFK, depicted by Oliver Stone among others. 

Dodi Fayed is another second generation moneyman who knocked on the golden door to no avail, with the exception of Chariots of Fire. Fayed is unfortunately known more for the remarkable events of his death with Princess Diana than for his life's work in show business.

Megan Ellison, said to be worth in excess of £1.2bn, is likely the first female ersatz American Aristocrat to hang out a shingle with her own money. 

That said, this woman is unlike any independent money who has come before. Often mislabeled as "a USC Film School drop out," Ellison was born with entrepreneurial instincts that require no excuses. Annapurna Pictures, her production company is named for a mountain ridge in Nepal that ranges up to 26,000 ft. It also has a mystical quality. 

Annapurna Pics can be found at http://annapurnapics.com/ - but they absolutely do not accept anything unsolicited, so fire up your agent/manager.

Annapurna's slate includes the latest, American Hustle (2013), which is a front-runner for a gold statuette with 10 noms; Her (2013) also in Oscar contention; Zero Dark Thirty (2012) the darling of that year's Oscar race; The Master (2012); Lawless (2012) starring a flawless Tom Hardy; and the Coen Bros. remake of True Grit (2010). These films are just the highlights.

For the 2014 race, it has been widely reported that Ellison is the first woman behind the scenes as producer on two films (American Hustle, Her) that are in the Best Picture Race.Additionally, all the pictures she has made are brave, unrelenting, and just incredibly damn good. 

When no other studio, indie, or rogue documentarian dared touch the Church of Tom Cruise for fear of having media rocks thrown at their shingle, Ellison came forward with Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master. Joaquin Phoenix, who has made the Shai Labeouf claim to exit fame on many occasions, has been put to good use in Her, and was outstanding in The Master.

How Megan Ellison picks her production slate is anybody's guess. But the theme seems to be the unmake-able, hard to finance, gems that address untouchable topics with a deft hand. One could say she is in The School of Clint Eastwood in terms of subject matter.

In any case, tapping the Coens, Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark 30), owning the rights to a couple Paul Thomas Anderson films, plus the interesting choice of director John Hillcoat (Lawless), and now David O. Russell for American Hustle, she seems to hitting high creative notes with each new project.

Whether Malibu-based Megan Ellison takes the AMPAS stage for Best Picture with American Hustle, the soon-to-be 28-year-old will never have the same checkered Hollywood history as the others who came to this town loaded down with cash. 

Ellison is on top of her own Annapurna peak right now, building expectations for more great choices where those other Best Pictures came from... regardless of what her pedigree is, or where the seed money was made.

Next on deck for Annapurna Pictures, among other projects with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, is a page-one reboot of the Terminator franchise.

Make sure to follow them on Twitter, @AnnapurnaPics to see how Megan Ellison does in the 86th Annual Academy Awards.

 

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About Quendrith Johnson

Johnson Quendrith
LA Correspondent for fest21.com & filmfestivals.com

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