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The Spawn Of Larry

Hollywood still has room for fresh-faced strivers—particularly if, like Megan and David Ellison, they happen to be the progeny of the sixth-richest man on the planet. Having misspent their Woodside youth on pricey thrill rides—horse jumping for her, plane stunts for him—the Ellison kids have plunged into the movie biz with dad-like gusto. the result: four new films.

DAVID ELLISON, Age 29
Company: Skydance Productions, possibly named for his interest in aerobatic flying, or maybe a mashup of “Skywalker” and “Sundance”

Big picture of the month: Oscar winner Christopher McQuarrie’s Jack Reacher, about a Special Forces veteran taking justice into his own hands

WTF picture of the month: The Guilt Trip, in which inventor Seth Rogan and his mom (Barbra “your worst Nightmare” Streisand) hit the road to sell his latest idea

Other high-profile projects: Mission: Impossible—Ghost Protocol, the upcoming World War Z, and Star Trek into Darkness

Recipients of largesse: Brad Pitt, G.I. Joe stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Channing Tatum, director J.J. Abrams

Filmmaking philosophy: Prefers “tent-pole action, adventure, science fiction, and fantasy films” along with a few comedies (Skydance site); raised $350 million to create a “media company 2.0,” but insists that Skydance will never be “just a checkbook” (Los Angeles Times)

Odd penchants: Stories involving airplanes (his acting credits include the 2006 bomb Flyboys); blockbusters starring Tom Cruise

Media scuttlebutt: Offered Taylor Lautner $7.5 million to costar in yet another flying flick, Northern Lights, only to have the deal blow up “because [Ellison] had written himself a big role as an actor and pilot” (Deadline Hollywood)

Oscar bait: Hit the jackpot with 2010’s True Grit (coproduced with Megan), but his current slate couldn’t be less academy-friendly

MEGAN ELLISON, Age 26
Company: Annapurna Pictures, named for the Himalayan mountain where she went hiking after dropping out of film school in 2005

Big picture of the month: Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, about the Special Forces team that took out Osama bin Laden

WTF Picture of the month: The Grandmasters, the Hong Kong–made story of Ip Man, the martial arts master who trained Bruce Lee (release date via IMBD)

Other high-profile projects: The Master, Lawless, the upcoming Terminator 5

Recipients of largesse: Auteur-directors Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, David O. Russell, Wong Kar-wai, and Bennett Miller

Filmmaking philosophy: Likes sophisticated fare deemed too adventurous for risk-averse studios, which she supports “with a spirit more akin to the freewheeling world of technology start-ups than a film industry entering its second century” (New York Times)

Odd penchants: Redheaded A-list actresses (Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain); random tweets from Oxford’s Quotations (E.E. Cummings, Jack London, Bertrand Russell, Tupac Shakur, Winnie the Pooh)

Media scuttlebutt: “The most powerful new producer in Hollywood” (Los Angeles Times); “an Ayn Rand–quoting, luxury-car-driving, martini-sipping patron of the arts” with “more money in the bank than any of her movies will cost (or probably gross)” (Jezebel)

Oscar bait: With all those projects jam-packed with critical darlings, expect at least a few nominations come January

Originally published in the December 2012 issue of San Francisco.

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