In 2012, thanks to the films she financed, from "MASTER to "THE GRANDMASTERS" , from "KILLING THEM SOFTLY" to "ZERO DARK THIRTY"  and countless others- the majority of them would never had been made without her- Megan Ellison changed, for the better, the arteriosclerotic and ultimately boring, formulaic and archaic, Hollywood film production system.  No trust fund spoiled kid Elisson became the patron saint of the Film Art in 2012 demonstrating excellent taste, combining sensitivity with very refined gusto and a shockingly low profile. 

(...)  It’s true that The Master and Killing Them Softly didn’t deliver financially, but they did so artistically, and her slate (led by Zero Dark Thirty) is canvasing awards season. It would be a shame to judge her output by the bottom line, but even on that front, there’s a solid chance of her success through diversity and prestige. She’s placed her money where her faith is, and from the look of it, it’s going to pay off. That most likely baffles the more conservative-minded of the establishment. Yet another reason to start cutting up ticker tape for the young producer.

Living in Dreams

Little is known about her as she avoids interviews. Her twitter feed is a back-and-forth of positive press for her films and inspirational quotations from filmmakers like Charlie Chaplin (“Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself”) and renowned thinkers like Alfred Lord Tennyson (“Dreams are true while they last, and do we not live in dreams?”). It’s easy to focus on the romanticism of her reclusive nature, but her true contributions this year have been far more concrete.  Her emergence this year is powerful because she, instead of falling on her face, has succeeded in financing some creatively daring work that’s gained interest and is about to pick up a lot of gold. She’s certainly not alone, but she’s undeniably the catalyst for an industry disrupting model — using her wealth to protect the arts in a bold, unique, intimate way. Giving money to projects that others won’t.
Beyond that, she represents a great promise for future work. Annapurna is currently prepping Dominik’s Naomi Watts-starring Marilyn Monroe picture Blonde, and David O. Russell’s Abscam/FBI sting movie; they’re filming Moneyball director Bennett Miller‘s next; and they’re in post on new work from Spike Jonze while preparing to distribute Wong Kar Wai’s long-anticipated Ip Man movieThe Grandmaster.
Add to that pile:
  • The remake of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
  • Two Chris Milk dramas
  • A new Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg/Jonah Hill comedy
  • Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice collaboration with Robert Downey, Jr.
  • Paul Greengrass’ Julian Assange/Wikileaks movie
  • The resurrected Terminator franchise
and you get an idea of where the future of Annapurna is headed. More money to dramas with a heady mix of commercially safe fare (including a potential tentpole).
With all great experiments, there is a risk of failure. Megan Ellison knows that because Charlie Chaplin knew it. She’s entered into the most expensive art form with gusto, a comically large checkbook and good taste. There’s an opportunity here. It might be a fleeting one, and the fates may have to be bribed to let it be grasped, but after proving her salt in 2012, Ellison is poised to build a new production empire using the bricks discarded by established houses that could use some renovation. She is a lung-full of fresh air who has delivered reels to fans instead of empty developmental promises.
So if you’re glad you got new movies from Dominik, Bigelow and Hillcoat; if you’re beside yourself that The Master is a real thing that you can watch as often as you like; if you’re excited to see more auteur work with a dash of naked time-traveling robots, please raise a glass with me in thanking and celebrating Megan Ellison, our 2012 Filmmaker of the Year.