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Megan Ellison
Born
Margaret Elizabeth Ellison

(1986-01-31) January 31, 1986 (age 38)
Alma materUniversity of Southern California
OccupationFilm producer
Years active2007–present
Parents
FamilyDavid Ellison (brother)
Notes

Margaret Elizabeth Ellison (born January 31, 1986)[1] is an American film producer, entrepreneur, and daughter of multibillionaire Larry Ellison. She is the founder of Annapurna Pictures, established in 2011. She produced the films Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Her (2013), American Hustle (2013), and Phantom Thread (2017), all of which have earned her Oscar nominations. In 2014, Ellison was included in the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world.[2] She also received a Tony Award for Best Musical as a producer for the musical A Strange Loop.[3]

Early life and education

Megan Ellison was born in Santa Clara County, California, the daughter of Oracle Corporation co-founder and chairman, multibillionaire Larry Ellison, and his ex-wife, Barbara Boothe Ellison. Her father is of Jewish and Italian descent.[4] She has a brother, film producer David Ellison, who founded Skydance Media.[5] Ellison graduated from Sacred Heart Preparatory in 2004[6] and attended film school at the University of Southern California for one year.[7]

Early work

Ellison landed her first film credit in 2005 as a boom operator for the short film When All Else Fails, a thriller written and directed by her brother David Ellison. Ellison then began to finance low-budget movies such as Waking Madison and Passion Play. The success of the Coen Brothers' True Grit in 2010, on which she worked as an executive producer, brought her attention and credibility and launched her career as a producer.

Career

Ellison started out in the film business in 2006 when she contacted Katherine Brooks, the writer and director of Loving Annabelle, about investing in the filmmaker's next movie. The duo made plans for Waking Madison, starring Elisabeth Shue, which told the story of a woman who tries to cure her multiple personality disorder by locking herself in a room without food for 30 days. Ellison financed the film that was reported to have a budget of $2 million. Principal photography took place in 2007. It screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival in 2011 and went straight to DVD in July of that year.[8]

Ellison provided some financing for more movies in 2008 and 2009. The first was Main Street starring Colin Firth. It received little attention at film festivals and failed to gain general release. Passion Play, also made in 2009, got a release but fared poorly at the box office despite a well-known cast of popular actors. However, her investment in the Coen brothers western remake True Grit paid off as that movie found major commercial and critical success when released at the end of 2010.[8]

After that, Ellison received access to much larger sums of money from her father for the production of more movies and partnered with Michael Benaroya to produce and cofinance the thriller Catch .44 starring Bruce Willis and Forest Whitaker, and John Hillcoat's Prohibition-era crime drama, Lawless. Around that same time, she began to collaborate with the Creative Artists Agency's film finance group headed by Roeg Sutherland and Micah Green.[8]

She has since founded Annapurna Pictures, a company that plans to take a so-called "Silicon Valley" approach to filmmaking by investing in original, daring movies made by prestigious directors and screenwriters. Believing that risk-averse Hollywood studios have largely abandoned sophisticated dramas, period pieces, and auteur cinema, Annapurna Productions has released Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, a period drama about a cult that resembles Scientology, Zero Dark Thirty, an action-thriller about the killing of Osama bin Laden from writer Mark Boal and director Kathryn Bigelow,[8] Spike Jonze's Her, Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, and David O. Russell's American Hustle.[9] It was named for the Annapurna Circuit she hiked in Nepal in 2006.[10] Annapurna is backed by Ellison's billionaire father.[11]

In 2011 and 2012, it was reported that Ellison was working with Boal on developing a movie about WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange based on a New York Times Magazine article called "The Boy Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller.[12] Amid fierce competition in 2012 among movie studios to produce an Assange biopic,[13] Ellison and Annapurna eventually did not produce the movie, but DreamWorks released The Fifth Estate in 2013.[14]

In 2011, Ellison outbid Lionsgate for the rights to the Terminator franchise.[15] Ellison would then make a deal with her brother David Ellison so his Skydance Productions produced Terminator Genisys, where Megan only had an executive producer credit.[16]

In 2014, Ellison became the first woman and the fourth person to receive two Academy Award nominations for Best Picture in the same year, which she received for her work on Her and American Hustle.[17][18] In June 2014, Ellison optioned the screen rights for the memoir A House in the Sky, which tells the story of Amanda Lindhout and her capture by Somali rebels in 2011.[19] Several executives, including two-year president Mark Weinstock, left Annapurna in 2018.[20]

Also in 2014, Ellison was included as part of The Advocate's annual "40 Under 40" list.[21] In 2018, Ellison won the Woman in Motion Award at Cannes Music Festival.[22]

After a series of underperforming productions, in 2019 Ellison had grown secluded from Hollywood, leaving Annapurna to be mostly ran by Nathan Gary, who led Annapurna Interactive before being promoted to president. In early 2021, her former chief of distribution Erik Lomis approached Ellison regarding purchasing Nimona, a project about to be cancelled with the closure of its production company Blue Sky Animation. She liked the footage and the film's LGBT elements, and agreed to acquire the project, estabilishing an Annapurna Animation division and hiring studio Digital Negative to complete Nimona, eventually released by Netflix in 2023.[23]

Approach to production

Ellison has a particular taste in directors. Ellison's approach to working with critically acclaimed directors is purely focused on ensuring that their creative vision is met, and providing them with all the relevant resources.[11] Ellison is criticized by the film industry for being too ambitious and excessive with her budgets on films. With a proposed budget of $35 million, Paul Thomas Anderson's film The Master was initially denied by Universal and was deemed "too risky and rich for their blood."[24] Indiewire says, "With the project adrift, Ellison's Annapurna Pictures stepped in and with distribution by The Weinstein Company, funded and helped bring The Master to the screen for $35 million (though some reports suggest that number is closer to $40 million)."[24] With The Master making $28 million worldwide,[25] Ellison lost as much as $15 million on the project.[citation needed] Ellison is heavily involved with the production of the films she finances by being on the set and making sure everything goes as planned.[citation needed] Ellison was present for Zero Dark Thirty's production as it was brought to a halt because of sandstorms and had to abort a location due to an anti Pakistan riot in India.[7] Ellison's production style is holistically present and accommodating to directors' visions.[citation needed] Because of her wealth, Ellison does not approach film as an investment with high returns, but rather as an artistic medium pushing the boundaries of independent filmmaking.[citation needed]

Personal life

Ellison is openly lesbian.[26] She owns a number of motorcycles.[27] Additionally, she is a competitive equestrian, having trained at the Wild Turkey Farm in Woodside, California and riding in the North American Young Rider Championships in 2004.[28]


Filmography

This section of a biography of a living person does not include any references or sources. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living people that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately.Find sources: "Megan Ellison" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (May 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this message)

Producer

Year Title Director
2010 Waking Madison Katherine Brooks
Main Street John Doyle
2011 Catch .44[29] Aaron Harvey
2012 Lawless[30] John Hillcoat
The Master[31] Paul Thomas Anderson
Zero Dark Thirty[32] Kathryn Bigelow
2013 Her[33] Spike Jonze
American Hustle David O. Russell
2014 Foxcatcher Bennett Miller
2015 Joy David O. Russell
2016 Wiener-Dog Todd Solondz
Everybody Wants Some!! Richard Linklater
Sausage Party Conrad Vernon
Greg Tiernan
The Bad Batch Ana Lily Amirpour
20th Century Women Mike Mills
2017 Detroit Kathryn Bigelow
Phantom Thread[33] Paul Thomas Anderson
2018 The Ballad of Buster Scruggs Coen brothers
2019 Booksmart Olivia Wilde
2023 Landscape with Invisible Hand Cory Finley

Executive producer

Year Title Director Notes
2010 Passion Play Mitch Glazer
True Grit[30] Coen brothers
2012 Killing Them Softly[34] Andrew Dominik
Spring Breakers Harmony Korine
The Grandmaster[35] Wong Kar-wai
2015 Terminator Genisys Alan Taylor
2017 What Remains of Edith Finch Ian Dallas Game published by Annapurna Interactive
Downsizing Alexander Payne
2018 The Sisters Brothers Jacques Audiard
If Beale Street Could Talk Barry Jenkins
Vice[33] Adam McKay
2019 Wounds Babak Anvari
Where'd You Go, Bernadette Richard Linklater
Hustlers Lorene Scafaria
Bombshell Jay Roach [36]
2020 Kajillionaire Miranda July
2021 House of Gucci Ridley Scott
2022 She Said Maria Schrader
2023 Nimona Nick Bruno
Troy Quane

Awards and nominations

Annapurna Pictures Awards

Year Title Award/Nomination
2012 The Master[37] Nominated—Gotham Award for Best Feature
Zero Dark Thirty[38] Nominated—Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Film
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Film
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
2013 Her[33] Nominated—Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
American Hustle Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Film
Nominated—AACTA International Award for Best Film
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
2014 Foxcatcher Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama
Nominated—Producers Guild of America Award for Best Theatrical Motion Picture
2015 Joy Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
2016 20th Century Women Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture − Musical or Comedy
2017 Phantom Thread[33] Nominated—Academy Award for Best Picture

References

  1. ^ a b Leigh, Danny (February 18, 2013). "Megan Ellison, the most powerful new force in Hollywood". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved January 1, 2024.
  2. ^ "The 100 Most Influential People – Pioneers: Megan Ellison". Time. April 23, 2014. Archived from the original on May 5, 2017. Retrieved April 26, 2014.
  3. ^ Jacobs, Julia (June 12, 2022). "Tony Awards 2022 Live Updates: 'A Strange Loop' Wins Best Musical". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on June 13, 2022. Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  4. ^ Matthew Symonds, Larry Ellison. Software: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle Simon and Schuster, 2004. pp332-333
  5. ^ Software: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle Simon and Schuster, 2004. pp332-333
  6. ^ "Stanford provost speaks at Sacred Heart". The Almanac News. June 16, 2004. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved October 8, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Grigoriadis, Vanessa (March 21, 2012). "The Life of Megan Ellison, the 27-Year-Old Mega-Producer Who's on Pace to Run Hollywood". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on January 21, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes (August 28, 2011). "Silicon Valley Scion Tackles Hollywood". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  9. ^ "As Annapurna Stumbles, Billionaire Larry Ellison Exerts Control". Variety. October 10, 2018. Archived from the original on January 17, 2019. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  10. ^ "The Life of Megan Ellison, the 27-Year-Old Mega-Producer Who's on Pace to Run Hollywood". Vanity Fair. March 1, 2013. Archived from the original on April 15, 2014. Retrieved April 18, 2014.
  11. ^ a b "Megan Ellison: Hollywood's latest player". Financial Times. June 26, 2018. Archived from the original on October 18, 2016. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  12. ^ Mike Fleming Jr. (February 2, 2011). "Locker's Mark Boal At Center Of WikiLeaks Film Deal As Other Julian Assange Movies Mobilize". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 18, 2014. Retrieved April 17, 2020.
  13. ^ Carlson, Erin (July 6, 2012). "Studios Rushing to Produce Julian Assange Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  14. ^ Watercutter, Angela (October 17, 2013). "The Fifth Estate Proves How Hard It Is to Make a Movie About the Internet". Wired. Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2018.
  15. ^ Danny Leigh, "Megan Ellison: the billionaire heiress out to save the movies" Archived March 8, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, "The Guardian", July 8, 2011.
  16. ^ McWeeny, Drew (January 23, 2014). "Megan Ellison removes Annapurna Pictures from the 'Terminator: Genesis' reboot". Hitflix.com. Archived from the original on January 24, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  17. ^ "Oscar Nominations: Megan Ellison First Woman to Score 2 Best Picture Nods in Same Year". TheWrap. January 16, 2014. Archived from the original on January 22, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  18. ^ "Megan Ellison's Moment of Truth: Inside the Reboot of Annapurna Pictures". The Hollywood Reporter. February 21, 2019. Archived from the original on December 30, 2020. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  19. ^ Jordan Zakarin (June 25, 2014). "Rooney Mara to Star in 'A House in the Sky' for Megan Ellison's Annapurna". The Wrap. Archived from the original on June 27, 2014. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  20. ^ "Marc Weinstock To Leave Annapurna After Two Years As President". Deadline. June 26, 2018. Archived from the original on October 31, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  21. ^ "40 Under 40: Megan Ellison Makes Movies You Talk About Archived August 21, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, The Advocate, August 20, 2014.
  22. ^ "Cannes: Megan Ellison Speaks Out for Women Filmmakers at Kering Gala". Variety. May 18, 2015. Archived from the original on September 21, 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  23. ^ Mia Galuppo, Rebecca Keegan (March 6, 2024). "The Second Coming of Megan Ellison". The Hollywood Reporter.
  24. ^ a b "Megan Ellison Hates Harvey Weinstein & More: 7 Highlights From The Juicy Vanity Fair Profile On The Annapurna Scion". Indiewire. February 1, 2013. Archived from the original on November 1, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2018.
  25. ^ "The Master". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on March 26, 2015. Retrieved February 19, 2019.
  26. ^ Garrahan, Matthew (February 21, 2014). "Megan Ellison: Hollywood's latest player". Financial Times. Archived from the original on September 25, 2015. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  27. ^ Grigoriadis, Vanessa (February 6, 2013). "The Life of Megan Ellison, the 27-Year-Old Mega-Producer Who's on Pace to Run Hollywood". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on April 11, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  28. ^ Cieply, Michael; Barnes, Brooks (August 29, 2011). "Silicon Valley Scion Tackles Hollywood (Published 2011)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on November 3, 2021. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  29. ^ Kay, Jeremy (May 15, 2011). "Anchor Bay takes Annapurna, Benaroya, Emmett's Catch .44". screendaily.com. Archived from the original on October 18, 2020. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  30. ^ a b Kit, Borys (December 13, 2010). "Jessica Chastain to Star in 'The Wettest County'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 20, 2020. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  31. ^ Cieply, Michael (April 18, 2012). "Filmmaker's Newest Work Is About ... Something". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  32. ^ Sperling, Nicole (October 11, 2018). "What Happens Next for Megan Ellison's Embattled Annapurna Pictures?". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  33. ^ a b c d e Thompson, Anne (October 10, 2018). "Annapurna's Stunning Shakeup: What the Hell Is Megan Ellison Doing?". indiewire.com. Archived from the original on October 11, 2018. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
  34. ^ Kaufman, Amy (November 29, 2012). "Brad Pitt's 'Killing Them Softly' poised for soft box office debut". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 1, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  35. ^ Lee, Maggie (January 8, 2013). "Film Review: The Grandmaster". Variety. Archived from the original on October 18, 2020. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  36. ^ Hammond, Pete (October 14, 2019). "'Bombshell' Explodes Into Oscar Race As Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman & Margot Robbie Unveil The Fox News Roger Ailes Story". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 16, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  37. ^ Cieply, Michael (April 18, 2012). "Filmmaker's Newest Work Is About ... Something". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 20, 2013. Retrieved October 18, 2020.
  38. ^ Sperling, Nicole (October 11, 2018). "What Happens Next for Megan Ellison's Embattled Annapurna Pictures?". Vanity Fair. Archived from the original on November 22, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2020.