“I got the idea, because I created this series, ‘Prison Break,’ which has earned me millions of dollars, but it’s earned the network hundreds of millions,” says the mega producer.
Mega producer Brett Ratner told a Cannes conference on Friday that he was finalizing a deal to co-finance TV series with a U.S. network, which he didn’t name, via RatPac Entertainment.
“I got the idea, because I created this series, Prison Break, which has earned me millions of dollars, but it’s earned the network (20th Century Fox) hundreds of millions. It should have earned me hundreds of millions, but I don’t own it,” Ratner told the crowd at the film finance forum in Cannes, an annual industry event run by Winston Baker in cooperation with The Hollywood Reporter. “The real money is in TV.”
Ratner didn’t share details on which network he was talking to or mention any of the possible TV projects, but said he was interested in financing all types of television, including for streaming partners. In addition to his Prison Break connection with Fox, Ratner has an established relationship with Time Warner through RatPac and Dune Entertainment’s film co-financing joint venture with Warner Bros. The deal, for up to 75 films, includes Gravity, The Lego Movie and the upcoming Wonder Woman and Justice League.
RatPac also partnered with New Regency on Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Oscar winners Birdman and The Revenant. His credits as a director include the Rush Hour franchise and the upcoming The Libertine, starring Johnny Depp.
In his talk Friday with industry veteran P. John Burke, Ratner noted that being a director as well as a producer and financier gives him unique insight into the business.
“The studios, looking at the value of the films they made, often don’t take the creative element into account,” he said, telling a story of how, during the making of The Revenant, the studio (20th Century Fox) was putting Inarritu under pressure to cut two key scenes from the movie for budgetary reasons: the iconic bear mauling scene and the shot where Leonardo DiCaprio rides over a cliff. Ratner stepped in and increased his company’s stake in the film, boosting its budget from $60 million to $90 million and kept both scenes in.
“Can you imagine the film if the bear scene wasn’t in it?” Ratner laughed. “If you don’t have those two scenes you basically don’t even need to make the movie, it would just be DiCaprio walking around.”
Ratner commented on recent structural changes to RatPac, which has seen billionaire James Packer (the Pac to Ratner’s Rat) exit the company, with his stake acquired by Access Entertainment, part of Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries.
Pointing to Blavatnik’s acquisition of Warner Music in 2011 for $3.3 billion, Ratner noted that Blavatnik “buys to build” and that “having a guy behind me that really wants to win” will allow RatPac to grow substantially.
Ratner retained his stake in RatPac. He is continuing as CEO and also became co-chairman alongside Danny Cohen, president of Access Entertainment and former director of BBC Television. The companies didn’t detail how big Packer’s and therefore Access’ stake was.
Musing on his rise from for-hire director to one of the industry’s most powerful producers and financiers, Ratner admitted that “Hollywood is completely shocked that this has happened to Brett Ratner…Jackie Chan likes to say I’m the luckiest Mother F—er in Hollywood. I’m blessed.”