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Oscars Provide Stage for Participant’s Comeback Story

New York Times

By Brooks Barnes

February 22, 2019


BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Just a couple of years ago, Participant Media, a film and television company founded in 2004 by the eBay billionaire Jeff Skoll, seemed to have lost its way. Badly.

Bets on movies like “Denial,” about Holocaust disavowal, and “The Light Between Oceans,” a romance involving a moral quandary, were not paying off as expected. In a retrenchment, Participant, which focuses on issues-oriented entertainment, laid off 50 percent of its work force and closed three divisions. Mr. Skoll ousted the company’s chief executive.

Talk about a roaring comeback. 

Participant, now led by David Linde, a former chairman of Universal Pictures, heads into Sunday’s Academy Awards with three major contenders and 17 overall nominations. Netflix has received all the attention for “Roma,” a front-runner for best picture. But Participant financed the film and shopped it to distributors, ultimately choosing Netflix. Participant was also behind “Green Book,” another best-picture favorite, rescuing the movie when another studio had passed on making it. Read more