‘Top Gun: Maverick’ producer Skydance worth $4 billion after private equity investment

A serious looking man looks to his right
Tom Cruise in Skydance Media and Paramount Pictures’ “Top Gun: Maverick.”
(Paramount Pictures)

Billionaire heir David Ellison’s Skydance Media, producer of “Top Gun: Maverick,” has closed a $400-million financing round led by investment giant KKR, as private equity firms continue to bet on entertainment assets.

The funding round, in which New York-based KKR joined the Ellison family and previous investors, values the Santa Monica film and television company at $4 billion, the firm said Thursday.


Skydance said it would use the new capital to ratchet up businesses including sports, interactive entertainment (such as gaming and virtual reality) and its animation arm, while also supporting its traditional film and TV operations.

Private equity firm RedBird Capital and Chinese tech company Tencent, both of which had previously invested in Skydance, also participated in the round. RedBird led a 2020 financing round totaling $275 million, which included financing from Seoul-based CJ Entertainment.

KKR’s investment is the latest example of private equity’s interest in the entertainment and media space. Major players including KKR, Apollo Global, RedBird and Blackstone have all been active in the space.

Investment firms in recent years have poured money into music catalogs, celebrity-fronted production companies and film studios in the hopes of capitalizing on booming demand for content from streaming and the recovery of box office sales.

Songwriters like Bruce Springsteen, John Legend and Bob Dylan are cashing in on the growing demand for popular songwriting catalogs.

Jan. 15, 2022

In music, KKR teamed with label BMG to acquire artist assets, including John Legend’s catalog, and early this year purchased a portfolio of music publishing rights from Kobalt for $1.1 billion.


Blackstone is backing Candle Media, run by former Disney executives, which has acquired Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine, a piece of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s shingle Westbrook and “Cocomelon” producer Moonbug Entertainment.

RedBird last year invested in LeBron James’ entertainment company SpringHill, valuing the operation at $725 million. Apollo invested $760 million in “Dune” producer Legendary Entertainment.

Meanwhile, the owners of independent production shops are looking to cash in. Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment is now on the market, exploring options including a sale, the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

David Ellison is the son of tech billionaire Larry Ellison, co-founder of Oracle Corp., and the brother of Annapurna Pictures founder Megan Ellison.

Hello Sunshine, “South Park” and MGM deals reveal how streaming is boosting the value of content brands, not just libraries.

Aug. 10, 2021

Skydance has been a prolific maker of commercially driven action adventure movies for theaters and streaming. “Top Gun: Maverick,” released by Paramount Pictures, grossed $1.45 billion at the box office.

Productions for streaming have included “The Adam Project” and “6 Underground” for Netflix — both much-watched while dismissed by critics — as well as “The Tomorrow War” on Amazon’s Prime Video and the computer animated film “Luck” for Apple.