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11 of the top movie financiers that bankroll filmmakers' dreams and have scored box-office hits like 'Joker' and 'Parasite

Published by Business Insider on Wed, 19 Feb 2020


Movie financing is always a risk, but some companies like Bron, Participant, and streamers Netflix and Amazon are thriving thanks to bankrolling projects.In this power list, Business Insider breaks down the companies that are making filmmakers' dreams come true by writing the big checks and seeing returns.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.It doesn't matter if a director is a first-timer or a veteran like Martin Scorsese, they all have one thing in common: getting money to make movies is hard.You might be wondering why a company wouldn't be beating down the door of a legend to bankroll their next project, and the reality is moviemaking is often not a lucrative business. And if you ever get your money back (or make a profit) it often takes years.But there are some companies that have taken on the risk and in return have become hugely successfullike the companies that financed "Joker" and "Parasite," which now have Oscars to add to their box-office achievements.Here are 11 financiers that are currently Hollywood's go-to companies when it needs money to launch a project:SEE ALSO:Netflix lost the best-picture Oscar for a second straight year. We talked to Academy voters and Hollywood insiders about why.Amazon StudiosThough Amazon appears to be rethinking how to go forward with its movie-release strategy, it has never been shy to take on projects. Often it's nabbing titles from festivals like Sundance at record-breaking prices, but it also gets in on the ground floor, like it did with the $40 million-budgeted "The Aeronauts." And after making a deal with Blumhouse Productions back in 2018 to produce a slate of thrillers, it will be interesting to see what Amazon puts money into going forward.Black Bear PicturesSince 2011, the company has been behind the Oscar winner "The Imitation Game" (which also brought in over $200 million at the worldwide box office on a $14 million budget) and George Clooney movie "Suburbicon." Coming up, it has the Casey Affleck drama "The Friend"; Dave Franco's directorial debut, "The Rental"; and thriller "I Care a Lot," starring Rosamund Pike and Peter Dinklage.Black Label MediaHaving earned a combined $200 million at the domestic box office from the movies it's released so far, this company, founded by Molly Smith (the daughter of FedEx founder Frederick Smith), is looking to champion titles with some edge. It has financed movies like "Demolition," "Sicario," and its sequel "Sicario: Day of the Soldado."Bron StudiosThe Canada-based company founded by Aaron and Brenda Gilbert in 2010 has financed a wide array of acclaimed titles like "A Simple Favor" and "Bombshell" this past year. In fact, for the movie that looks at the women who fought back against Fox News head Roger Ailes to become a reality, Bron had to jump in and fully finance the movie after its cofinancier, Annapurna, pulled out. Bron also cofinanced 2019 hit and Oscar winner "Joker" through its deal with Warner Bros. The supervillain movie is the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever with over $1 billion earned worldwide.CJ EntertainmentThe South Korean company was behind the Oscar-winning "Parasite" (which has earned over $190 million worldwide) and will be looking to have a bigger presence in Hollywood going forward as it recently invested in Skydance Media.Skydance was started by David Ellison, the son of Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and is behind the "Mission: Impossible" franchise and the upcoming "Top Gun: Maverick" movie. CJ and venture capital firm RedBird Capital invested $275 million.Entertainment One (eOne)The Canadian-owned company has always been a major player in movies and television, most recently helping titles like "On The Basis of Sex" (which brought in over $38 million at the worldwide box office on a $20 million budget). But expect even more from eOne going forward.Late last year, it was acquired by Hasbro for $3.8 billion. The toy giant plans to use the existing infrastructure at eOne to boost its "Transformers" and "My Little Pony" properties.FilmNation EntertainmentThe production and international sales company has been a major player since producing its first movie in 2012, the Matthew McConaughey-starrer "Mud."Since then the company has backed titles like "Logan Lucky" and "Suspiria."Indian PaintbrushKnown for putting money into independent films like "Jeff, Who Lives at Home," "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World," and "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," the company has also been involved in all of Wes Anderson's movies since 2007's "The Darjeeling Limited." Anderson's movies to date have earned close to $300 million at the domestic box office. It is also involved in Anderson's upcoming "The French Dispatch."MRCSince launching in 2006, the company has financed shows like "House of Cards" and "Ozark" and on the movie side has put in money for a wide range of titles like "Babel," "22 Jump Street," and "Hotel Transylvania 2."Recently, the company has backed hits "Baby Driver" and "Knives Out." Together these titles earned over $500 million in worldwide box office.NetflixOne of the biggest evolutions at the streaming giant is how it has taken on the challenge of bankrolling passion projects for auteurs.Whether it's the millions it put into getting Orson Welles' final movie, "The Other Side of the Wind," out of its legal woes and out into the public, or bringing to life Alfonso Cuarn's "Roma" or Scorsese's $159 million-budgeted "The Irishman," top-flight directors know where to turn when other financiers balk at the price tag.ParticipantFounded in 2004 by Jeffrey Skoll, Participant has become the go-to company when Hollywood has a project focused on social change. It's behind such titles as "Syriana"; the Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth" (which along with winning an Oscar is one of the highest-grossing documentaries of all time with close to $50 million earned worldwide); "Contagion"; and two best picture winners, "Spotlight" and "Green Book."
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