In a big step for indie producer, Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures will distribute and market its own films

"American Hustle" producer Megan Ellison, right, with stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

Annapurna Pictures, Megan Ellison’s growing independent production company, has long made critically acclaimed movies for other studios to release in theaters. Now, in a big move for the indie shingle, Annapurna will distribute movies on its own.

The Los Angeles company, known for Oscar best-picture nominees such as “Her” and “American Hustle,” is launching a full-fledged distribution and marketing arm, Annapurna said Friday. Its first release will be an as-yet untitled film about the 1967 Detroit riots directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who previously made “Zero Dark Thirty” for Annapurna.

Distribution and marketing is the latest expansion for Ellison’s company, which formed a video game production unit late last year. In the past, Annapurna’s movies have been released by major distributors including Sony Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures and Paramount Pictures.

The company did not say how many films it plans to release independently.


Marc Weinstock, who left 20th Century Fox last year to join Annapurna as president, will oversee the new division with marketing president and former Sony executive David Kaminow and distribution chief Erik Lomis, who previously worked at Weinstein Co.

Ellison founded Annapurna in 2011 and has since become an awards season regular. Recent commercial hits include Sony’s R-rated cartoon “Sausage Party,” and its film “20th Century Women” is a critical darling. But it has also produced box office disappointments, like Paramount’s “Everybody Wants Some!!”

The untitled Bigelow movie is slated for theatrical release Aug. 4.

“Kathryn took a chance on me six years ago and I’m honored that she has put her faith in me and my team once again,” Ellison said in a statement.