'Kidnap' - Relativity Studios
‘Kidnap’ – Relativity Studios

The film was initially scheduled for release on October 9, 2015, but in July 2015, the studio behind it, Relativity, pushed back the date to February 26, 2016, because the company was facing a financial crisis. It was then re-scheduled once again for a May 13, 2016 premiere, before being pushed back a 3rd time to December 2, 2016, and pulled off the schedule again, to be later slated for March 10, 2017, which never happened, leaving many wondering when/if “Kidnap” would ever get its day to shine in front of audiences.

So what’s the deal, as several of you have inquired?

In brief, the parent studio of the film’s distribution company, Relativity Media, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in mid-2015 after lawsuits and missing loan payments. However, in March 2016, the company emerged from the bankruptcy, but still on financially shaky ground, leaving the fate of its unreleased titles (including “Kidnap”) up in the air.

A project that’s been “on the shelf” since 2014, it was acquired by Relativity Studios in the fall of that year, but its release has since been uncertain thanks to the financial woes of the studio’s parent company (Relativity Media). Despite emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March of last year, its future remained uncertain as a Chapter 7 (liquidation) was expected to be filed before the end of 2016, as other studios, like Lionsgate, expressed interest in the company’s 40-plus title library.

As of January of this year (2017), Relativity Media was described as being in “a persistent vegetative state” (per Variety), as insiders at the company said the studio was down to just a handful of employees.

Millions of dollars in debt, a Chapter 7 liquidation of the company became even more likely, as its parts may be worth more than the whole. Although most recently, it received a cash infusion via Singapore-based YuuZoo Corporation Limited who bought 33.3% of Relativity Media, with an option to increase its investment to a majority stake over the next 24 months; meaning, YuuZoo may take over the company fully.

What all this means for the unreleased films in Relativity’s library was a mystery as of our last update in March.

Skip ahead to today, to a press release received from a newly-formed distribution company called Aviron Pictures, launched by David Dinerstein (formerly of Paramount Classics and Fox Searchlight), which includes mention of a pick up of all U.S. release rights to “Kidnap” (and other titles), for an August 4th theatrical open… finally.

Dinerstein was joined by former Universal Pictures acquisitions executive Jason Resnick to help build out the Aviron Pictures slate. P&A funding for Aviron Pictures comes through Aviron Capital, a consortium of financiers including principal William Sadleir. Aviron Capital is an asset-backed senior lender with financing provided by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with over $5 trillion under management.

“Kidnap is a film we really believe in,” Dinerstein.

And Lorenzo di Bonaventura, producer of “Kidnap,” chimed in with: “The executives at Aviron have been passionate, treated us as collaborators, and demonstrated real outside-of-the-box thinking… We know ‘Kidnap’ is in very capable hands.”

The film is said to have tested quite well among African American audiences, but one has to wonder, given just how long it’s been in Limbo (2 years now), it’s possible that interest in it may have dwindled a bit, and when it finally does open on August 4, it may not perform as well as it might have if it had opened on schedule. But this could also turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Berry appears in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” which will be out in September, so anticipation for that film (the first “Kingsman” movie grossed over $400 million worldwide) may help drive interest in “Kidnap” a month earlier.

Berry also executive produces the project with her production partner, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, via their 606 Films company, which she launched in early 2014 to produce what she described as “socially conscious” work, in the spirit of the company’s name (after the anti-paparazzi bill that Berry pushed, which California Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law that same year).

Spanish filmmaker Luis Prieto (“Pusher”) directed “Kidnap,” from a script penned by Knate Gwaltney.

Di Bonaventura Pictures is producer. Lotus Entertainment and Gold Star Films financed the film, as well as exec produced.

So August 4 it is for “Kidnap’s” release; unless something else causes it to be pushed back yet again…

A first trailer for “Kidnap” was released last summer; check it out below if you missed it (I assume Aviron Pictures will probably cut a new one to market the film’s late summer release):