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Participant Media

Participant Media, LLC
Industry Motion picture
Founded January 2004 (as Participant Productions)
Founder Jeffrey Skoll
Headquarters Los Angeles, California, United States
Key people
Jeffrey Skoll, CEO
Products Movies, television films and specials, new media
Parent Jeff Skoll Group

Participant Media (formerly known as Participant Productions) is an American film-and television-production company which finances and produces socially relevant films and documentaries.[1][2] The company has been described as being politically active.[3] Its films are typically based on current events and topical subjects and presented in such a way to inspire viewers to advocate for social change.[1][4][5] The studio has produced or co-produced a number of award-winning fiction films and documentaries. By the end of its second year in business, its films had been nominated for 11 Academy Awards.[6][7] By the end of the 2011 awards season, its films had been nominated for Oscars 22 times, and won eight. Its 2012 films received another 12 Oscar nominations.[8]


  • Founding 1
  • Corporate history 2
    • 2005 2.1
    • 2006 2.2
    • 2007 2.3
    • 2008 2.4
    • 2009 2.5
    • 2010 2.6
    • 2011 2.7
    • 2012 2.8
    • 2013 2.9
  • Films 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The company was founded in January 2004 as Participant Productions by Jeffrey Skoll, the "second employee" of eBay,[2][6] to produce projects that were both commercially viable and socially relevant.[9] Skoll had earlier co-founded Ovation Entertainment, a start-up film production company, in 2001 but quit the company in the summer of 2003.[1][4][10][11] Skoll began discussions with Hollywood insiders, technical experts and financiers in September 2003 to educate himself about film production.[10] One of Skoll's critical advisors was Peter Schlessel (formerly the president of Columbia Pictures and later the president of Sony Pictures Entertainment).[12] By January 2004, the company had pulled together most of its staff, many of whom attended the Cannes Film Festival.[1][10] The company believed it had a deal to distribute the documentary film Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), directed by Michael Moore,[4][10] but lost the distribution rights to the Fellowship Adventure Group (a film-distribution company formed by Bob and Harvey Weinstein specifically to release Fahrenheit 9/11).[13]

The corporate logo of Participant Media from 2004 to 2007, when it was still known as Participant Productions.

With $100 million in cash from Skoll's personal funds,[1] Skoll was the company's first chief executive officer, but stepped down from that position in August 2006.[1] Participant Productions' initial plans were to produce four to six films per year, each with a budget of $40 million.[4][9] The company focused on films in six areas – the environment, healthcare, human rights, institutional responsibility, peace and tolerance, and social and economic justice.[1] It evaluated projects by running them past its creative executives first, assessing their cost and commercial viability second, and then analyzing their social relevance last.[1][10] Once the decision was made to go ahead with production, the company reached out to

External links

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Solomon, Lewis (2008). "Participant Productions", Tech Billionaires: Reshaping Philanthropy in a Quest for a Better World. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers, 2008. p. 76-81. ISBN 1-4128-0847-2.
  2. ^ a b Stern, Stefan (June 12, 2009). "Lunch with the FT: Jeff Skoll". Financial Times.
  3. ^ Thompson, Anne (March 10, 2008). "West, Atkinson Earn 'Minimum Wage'". Variety.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Pinsker, Beth (September 7, 2004). "Millionaire Report Cards". Variety.
  5. ^ a b c d Graser, Marc (September 22, 2004). "eBay Guru in Bidness on WB Pix". Variety.
  6. ^ a b Gaghan, Stephen (April 30, 2006). "Jeff Skoll". Time.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Thompson, Anne (September 13, 2007). "Participant President Staying Active". Variety.
  8. ^ a b c January 10, 2013.New York Times.Cieply, Michael and Barnes, Brooks. "'Lincoln' Leads Oscar Field With 12 Nominations." Accessed 2013-01-10.
  9. ^ a b Harris, Dana (June 16, 2004). "Skoll Toasts New Shingle". Variety.
  10. ^ a b c d e Shulgan, Chris (April 5, 2009). "Mr. Skoll Goes to Hollywood". The Globe and Mail.
  11. ^ Abramowitz, Rachel (April 13, 2003). "Big-Money Dreamers". Los Angeles Times.
    Bing, Jonathan (August 3, 2003). "Mall Mogul Makes Movie Moves". Variety.
  12. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (January 24, 2008). "New Strategy for Sony Prez". Variety.
  13. ^ Epstein, Edward Jay (May 3, 2005). "Paranoia for Fun and Profit – How Disney and Michael Moore Cleaned Up on Fahrenheit 9/11". Slate. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
    Staff (June 2, 2004). Finds Coalition of Willing Distributors"Fahrenheit 9/11". The Guardian. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
    Rooney, David; Harris, Dana (June 1, 2004). "'9/11': Moore the Merrier". Variety.
    Snyder, Gabriel (September 7, 2004). "Case Study: 'Fahrenheit 9/11'". Variety.
  14. ^ Graser, Marc (September 9, 2008). "More Pluck for Less Buck". Variety.
  15. ^ Biskind, Peter (2004). Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film. New York City: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-684-86259-0.
  16. ^ Harris, Dana (November 22, 2004). "'Sesame' Impact Felt". Variety.
  17. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela (January 8, 2006). "Skoll Bankrolls 'Sesame'". Variety.
  18. ^ Thompson, Anne (April 30, 2007). "Studios Go Green, Scene By Scene". Variety.
  19. ^ a b Harris, Dana (January 12, 2005). "Warner Arm Calls 'Truce'". Variety.
  20. ^ A similar film, Joyeux Noël, was produced by Sony Pictures Classics in 2005. Truce entered development hell and Perelman signed to direct The Giver in December 2005. He was removed from that project and instead directed an MTV Video Music Award-winning music video for Kelly Clarkson (for the song "Breakaway"). Perelman's next feature was the thriller film The Life Before Her Eyes (2007), starring Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood. See: Gardner, Chris (December 11, 2005). "Walden Looks for Lion's Share". Variety.; Morfoot, Addie (August 31, 2006). "Panic!, Blunt Prized with MTV Vid Nods". Variety.; Fleming, Michael (June 8, 2006). "Thriller Ensnares Thurman to Star". Variety.
  21. ^ McNary, Dave (June 20, 2005). "Rodney Gets Some Respect". Variety.
  22. ^ Harris, Dana (March 14, 2005). "'Night' Watch for Thesps". Variety.
  23. ^ Harris, Dana (May 15, 2005). "Participant in 'Fast' Lane". Variety.
  24. ^ "Who's Really Who in Cannes". Variety. May 14, 2006.
  25. ^ McClintock, Pamela (June 23, 2005). "Trio Will Roll 'Murderball'". Variety.
  26. ^ Snyder, Gabriel (December 18, 2005). "Searchlight Craves 'Food'". Variety.
  27. ^ Mohr, Ian; Gardner, Chris (February 13, 2006). "Par Unit Heats Up Over Global Warming". Variety.
  28. ^ a b Cohen, David S. (January 18, 2007). "Stanley Kramer Award: An Inconvenient Truth". Variety.
  29. ^ Mohr, Ian (March 7, 2005). "Participant Picks Its Prexy". Variety.
  30. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela (June 14, 2005). "Participant Taps Senior VP". Variety.
  31. ^ McClintock, Pamela (October 10, 2005). "Exec Joins Skoll Roll". Variety.
  32. ^ Mohr, Ian (February 7, 2005). "Ebay Guru Clicks with Digital Cinema". Variety.
  33. ^ Harris, Dana (April 5, 2005). "'Gandhi' in Mideast". Variety.
  34. ^ McNary, Dave (May 10, 2006). "Par Flexes Major Cannes Muscle". Variety.
  35. ^ a b c d "Oscar Nominations". Daily Variety. February 1, 2006.
  36. ^ Staff (March 6, 2006). "'Crash' Wins Best Picture Oscar". Fox News. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  37. ^ McNary, Dave; McClintock, Pamela (June 20, 2006). "'Crusaders' March". Variety.
  38. ^ McClintock, Pamela (September 6, 2006). "'Visitor' Comes for London, Skoll". Variety.
  39. ^ Mohr, Ian (November 5, 2006). "Morris Sets Abu Ghraib Doc". Variety.
  40. ^ McClintock, Pamela; Zeitchik, Steven (November 16, 2006). "'Chicago 10' Doc To Open Sundance". Variety.
  41. ^ Morfoot, Addie (November 17, 2008). "Helmers Put Talking Heads Through Toon Filter". Daily Variety.
  42. ^ McClintock, Pamela (December 4, 2006). "Demme on Carter Trail". Variety.
  43. ^ Snyder, Gabriel (January 4, 2007). "Exec on Road to Mandalay". Variety.
  44. ^ McGray, Douglas (January 21, 2007). "Network Philanthropy". Los Angeles Times.
  45. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela (September 7, 2006). "Berk To Top Participant". Variety.
  46. ^ McNary, Dave (December 5, 2006). "'Truth' Is Served at PGAs". Variety.
  47. ^ () Barnes, Brooks (November 20, 2008). "For Studio, Vampire Movie Is a Cinderella Story". The New York Times.
  48. ^ a b c d e McClintock, Pamela (January 22, 2009). "Participant Reaches for the Summit". Daily Variety.
  49. ^ "Academy Awards Nominations". Variety. January 22, 2007.
  50. ^ "'Departed' Takes Top Oscar". Variety. February 25, 2007.
  51. ^ Gorman, Steve (February 26, 2007). "Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth' Wins Documentary Oscar". Reuters. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  52. ^ a b McNary, Dave (January 8, 2007). "Participant Hired Duo for Marketing Gig". Variety.
  53. ^ McNary, Dave (January 16, 2007). "Skoll Taps Social Activist". Variety.
  54. ^ McNary, Dave (February 14, 2007). "Participant Prods. Taps New-Media Maven". Variety.
  55. ^ McClintock, Pamela (April 12, 2007). "King Joins Participant as Exec VP". Variety.
  56. ^ McClintock, Pamela (May 24, 2007). "Publishing Arm for Participant". Variety.
  57. ^ McClintock, Pamela (June 13, 2007). "Participant Taps VP Pair". Variety.
  58. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (November 2, 2007). "Participant, Portman Link". Variety.
  59. ^ Schneider, Michael (November 9, 2007). "Participant Watches TV". Variety.
  60. ^ Fleming, Michael; McClintock, Pamela (April 13, 2007). "Pair Want Milk Made". Variety.
  61. ^ McNary, Dave (May 2, 2007). "Doc Heats Things Up". Variety.
  62. ^ McClintock, Pamela (June 7, 2007). "Lizard Duo, Gluck Are 'Taildraggers'". Variety.
  63. ^ The film went into development hell. In January 2008, Broken Lizard began work on The Slammin' Salmon (2009). In March 2008, the company began filming on another comedy, tentatively titled Tow Truck, but this film had not been released as of March 2012. In January 2009, Broken Lizard finished casting for a third picture, the comedy Freeloaders. Freeloaders was completed, but did not have theatrical distribution as of March 2012. See: Brownstein, Bill (June 15, 2009). "You Can't Cage These Animals". The Gazette.; Siegel, Tatiana (March 3, 2008). "Raboy Takes Wheel of 'Tow Truck'". Variety.; Siegel, Tatiana (January 29, 2009). "Broken Lizard Gets Some 'Freeloaders'". Variety.
  64. ^ Thompson, Anne (November 20, 2007). "Surf's Up For Prod'n Pair". Variety.
  65. ^ Fleming, Michael (May 29, 2009). "Scribe Rides 'Bobby' Wave". Daily Variety.
  66. ^ Miller, Winter (January 25, 2008). "Doc Dance Partner". Variety. January 25, 2008.
  67. ^ Charlie Wilson's War was nominated for Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical), and writer Aaron Sorkin for Best Screenplay (Motion Picture) for the film. For their performances in the movie, Tom Hanks was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical), Julia Roberts was nominated for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical), and Philip Seymour Hoffman was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical). The Kite Runner was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, and Alberto Iglesias was nominated for his score for the film. See: Gallo, Phil (January 13, 2008). "'Atonement,' 'Sweeney' Win Globes". Variety.
  68. ^ "Oscar Nominations". Variety. January 22, 2008.
  69. ^ a b Thompson, Anne. "Duo Earning 'Wage'." Daily Variety. March 20, 2008.
  70. ^ Jaafar, Ali. "UN to Create $100 Mil Film Fund." Variety. January 16, 2008.
  71. ^ a b c Graser, Marc. "Skoll Score." Variety. September 11, 2008.
  72. ^ "Dealmakers Impact Report '08." Variety. September 25, 2008.
  73. ^ Kivel, Matt. "Participant Taps Sakson Veep." Daily Variety. April 4, 2008.
  74. ^ a b c June 15, 2009.Publisher's Weekly.Deahl, Rachel. "Participant Media Adds Book Arm."
  75. ^ a b Wilhelm, Ian. "New iPhone Application Could Help Charity Fund Raising." Chronicle of Philanthropy. June 15, 2009.
  76. ^ Garrett, Diane. "Bakula Lands 'Informant' Role." Daily Variety. April 1, 2008.
  77. ^ a b c Stewart, Sharon; Dawtrey, Adam; Kaufman, Anthony; and Ross, Matthew. "Got Liquidity?" Variety. May 11, 2009.
  78. ^ McNary, Dave. "'Colony' Tale Settles in at Participant." Daily Variety. July 10, 2008.
  79. ^ McNary, Dave. "Producers to Toast Skoll." Daily Variety. November 19, 2008; Stewart, Anna. "Visionary Award: Jeff Skoll." Daily Variety. January 23, 2009.
  80. ^ Graser, Marc (January 22, 2009). "Warner Bros. Plays Cat-and-Mouse Game". Daily Variety.
  81. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (January 27, 2009). "Fraser Letting Fur Fly For Pic". Daily Variety.
  82. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (April 22, 2009). "Participant in Eco-Action". Daily Variety.
  83. ^ Fleming, Michael (April 24, 2009). "Producers Will Put History on 'Trial'". Daily Variety.
  84. ^ Freedland, Jonathan (February 5, 2000). "Court 73 - Where History Is on Trial". The Guardian.
    Lyall, Sarah (January 12, 2000). "London Trial Opens Dispute on Rewriting the Holocaust". The New York Times.
    Lyall, Sarah (April 12, 2000). "Critic of a Holocaust Denier Is Cleared in British Libel Suit". The New York Times.
    Reid, T.R. (April 6, 2000). "Historians Fight Battle of the Books". The Washington Post.
    Reid, T.R. (April 12, 2000). "U.S. Scholar Is Victorious in Holocaust Libel Trial". The Washington Post.
  85. ^ "Players". Daily Variety. March 12, 2009.
  86. ^ May 19, 2009.Politico.Mullins, Anne Schroeder. "'Casino Jack'."
  87. ^ Fleming, Michael. "Filmmaker to Direct Participant Pic." Variety. May 3, 2009.
  88. ^ Fleming, Michael (May 4, 2009). "Stiller Falls for Scam". Daily Variety.
  89. ^ McNary, Dave. "U.S. Wave for 'Cove'." Daily Variety. March 6, 2009.
  90. ^ "Liana Schwarz Upped to Senior VP Participant." The Hollywood Reporter. June 17, 2009.
  91. ^ McNary, Dave. "Submarine Dives Into Doc Deal." Daily Variety. September 16, 2009.
  92. ^ a b McClintock, Pamela. "Welcome to 'Ava-Toad'." Daily Variety. January 28, 2010.
  93. ^ "News Briefs". Daily Variety. February 9, 2010.
  94. ^ McClintock, Pamela; Swart, Sharon (February 1, 2010). "Sundance's Roots Are Showing". Variety.
  95. ^ Kilday, Gregg (February 12, 2010). "Magnolia Picks Up 'Countdown to Zero'". The Hollywood Reporter.
  96. ^ Kilday, Gregg (March 2, 2010). "Tribeca Launches Distribution Plans". The Hollywood Reporter.
  97. ^ a b "Participant Media, Active Voice Combat Obesity". The Hollywood Reporter. February 25, 2010.
  98. ^ Swart, Sharon (February 25, 2010).. "Creatives Network on Net for Distrib'n". Variety.
  99. ^ Johnson, Ted (April 25, 2010). "Earth to H'Wood". Variety.
  100. ^ a b "Noah Manduke Joins Jeff Skoll Group". The Hollywood Reporter. April 13, 2010.
  101. ^ "Acad's Chosen Few". Variety. June 28, 2010.
  102. ^ McNary, Dave (March 19, 2011). "Summit Peek: Post-Fangs Bang?". Variety.
  103. ^ a b c d e f g h i Cieply, Michael (June 5, 2011). "Uneven Growth for Film Studio with a Message". The New York Times. Retrieved June 6, 2011.
  104. ^ Masters, Kim (September 28, 2011). "DreamWorks' Stacey Snider Addresses Studio's Money Issues". The Hollywood Reporter.
  105. ^ McClintock, Pamela (August 31, 2011). "'The Help' Crosses $100 Million Mark". The Hollywood Reporter.
  106. ^ Bruce, Leslie (December 18, 2011). "THR's 2011 Biggest Rule Breakers: Kim Kardashian, Netflix's Reed Hastings, Chuck Lorre and Ashton Kutcher". The Hollywood Reporter.
  107. ^ McClintock, Pamela (September 4, 2011). "Box Office Report: 'Apollo 18' and 'Shark Night' Still in a Dead Heat". The Hollywood Reporter.
  108. ^ McClintock, Pamela (September 10, 2011). "Box Office Report: Steven Soderbergh's 'Contagion' Winning Weekend Race". The Hollywood Reporter.
  109. ^ "Oscars 2012: Complete Winners List"> The Hollywood Reporter. February 26, 2012.
  110. ^ McClintock, Pamela (October 14, 2011). "Participant Media's Dynamic Duo Jim Berk and Ricky Strauss". The Hollywood Reporter.
  111. ^ "Insiders". Daily Variety. November 21, 2011.
  112. ^ a b Hopewell, John and Dickey, Josh L. "Participant Boards Spanish-Lingo 'No'." Variety. February 9, 2012.
  113. ^ Masters, Kim; Kit, Borys (January 12, 2012). "Disney Names Ricky Strauss as Marketing Chief". The Hollywood Reporter.
  114. ^ McClintock, Pamela (February 2, 2012). "Participant Gearing Up for Colombian Thriller". The Hollywood Reporter.
  115. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 16, 2012). "Participant Media Launches TV Division, Taps Evan Shapiro To Run It". Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  116. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 24, 2012). "Participant Media Acquires Equity Stake In Cineflix Media". Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  117. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (December 17, 2012). "Participant Media Acquires Documentary Channel And Halogen TV, Will Combine Services To Launch Network For Millennials". Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  118. ^ February 7, 2013.Variety.Hopewell, John. "Participant PanAmerica Launches." Accessed 2013-02-07.
  119. ^ "Participant Media Unveils Launch Date And Slate For New Cable Network Pivot". March 27, 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  120. ^ a b December 13, 2012.New York Times.Barnes, Brooks and Cieply, Michael. "'Lincoln' Tops 2013 Golden Globe Nominations." Accessed 2013-01-10.
  121. ^ a b January 27, 2013.Los Angeles Times."SAG Awards 2013: The Complete Winners and Nominees List." Accesswed 2013-01-28.
  122. ^ Fernandez, Jay A. "Toronto 2011: ATO Pictures Grabs 'Last Call at the Oasis'." The Hollywood Reporter. September 21, 2011.
  123. ^ McClintock, Pamela. "Participant Media Boarding Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln'." The Hollywood Reporter. October 12, 2011; January 13, 2013New York Times."List of Golden Globe Winners." , accessed 2013-01-14.
  124. ^ Kit, Borys. "Sundance 2012: Participant Media, AFFRM Partner for 'Middle of Nowhere'." The Hollywood Reporter. January 27, 2012.
  125. ^ Anderson, John. "Sundance Reviews: Finding North." Variety. January 24, 2012. The film's former title was Finding North. See: McNary, Dave. "Magnolia Finds 'A Place at the Table'." Variety. July 27, 2012.
  126. ^ Gilbert, Daniel. "Matt Damon Fracking Film Lights Up Petroleum Lobby." Wall Street Journal. October 7, 2012.
  127. ^ Vlessing, Etan. "Toronto 2012: Participant Media Taps Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad to Launch 'State 194'." The Hollywood Reporter. August 28, 2012.
  128. ^ Siegel, Tatiana. "Sundance 2013: Participant Picks Up Doc '99%–The Occupy Wall St. Collaborative Film'." The Hollywood Reporter. January 28, 2013.
  129. ^ McClintock, Pamela. "Participant PanAmerica Teaming with Gael Garcia Bernal on 'El Ardor'." The Hollywood Reporter. April 29, 2013.
  130. ^ McClintock, Pamela. "Participant Media Picks Up Diego Luna's Historical Drama 'Chavez' for North America." The Hollywood Reporter. June 5, 2012.
  131. ^ Savage, Sophia. "WikiLeaks Drama 'The Fifth Estate' Kicks off with Director Bill Condon and Benedict Cumberbatch." January 24, 2013. Accessed 2013-01-28.
  132. ^ Although the film debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2012, the distributor will not release it until early 2013. See: Hopewell, John and Keslassy, Elsa. "'No' Tops Directors' Fortnight at Cannes." Variety. May 25, 2012.
  133. ^ February 8, 2013.New York Times.Rohter, Larry. "One Prism on the Undoing of Pinochet." Accessed 2013-02-14.
  134. ^ McNary, Dave. "Julia Stiles, Scott Speedman, Stephen Rea Starring in 'Out of the Dark'." Variety. April 25, 2013.
  135. ^ Sneider, Jeff. "Benjamin Bratt Hitches to 'Snitch'." Variety. December 6, 2011.
  136. ^ McNary, Dave (6 September 2013). "‘Hundred-Foot Journey’ Joined By Participant". Variety. Retrieved 6 September 2013. 
  137. ^ January 22, 2014.Variety.McNary, Dave. "Jessica Chastain-Oscar Isaac's 'A Most Violent Year' Gets U.S. Distribution." Accessed 2014-03-27.
  138. ^ . January 10, 2014.VarietyMcNary , Dave. "Richard Gere, David Strathairn Check in to 'Best Exotic Marigold Hotel 2'." Accessed 2014-03-27.
  139. ^
  140. ^ "Focus Features Sets A Monster Calls for October 14, 2016". Retrieved 2014-04-09. 
  141. ^ Busch, Anita (April 24, 2015). "Relativity Plunks Down $3M To Pick Up Bold Films’ ‘Shot Caller’ With ‘Games Of Thrones’ Actor In Lead". Retrieved July 12, 2015. 


See also

Year Film Director Awards Notes
2004 Arna's Children Juliano Mer Khamis
Danniel Danniel
Best Documentary Feature, 2004 Tribeca Film Festival
2005 Syriana Stephen Gaghan 2 Academy Award Nominations
  • 1 Win, Best Supporting Actor (George Clooney)
North Country Niki Caro 2 Academy Award Nominations
Good Night, and Good Luck George Clooney 6 Academy Award Nominations
Murderball Henry Alex Rubin
Dana Adam Shapiro
1 Academy Award Nomination
American Gun Aric Avelino
The World According to Sesame Street Linda Hawkins Costigan
Linda Goldstein-Knowlton
TV and DVD release only
2006 Fast Food Nation Richard Linklater
An Inconvenient Truth Davis Guggenheim

2 Academy Award Nominations

  • 2 Wins, Best Documentary and Best Song
2007 Angels in the Dust Louise Hogarth
Jimmy Carter Man from Plains Jonathan Demme
Darfur Now Ted Braun
The Kite Runner Marc Forster 1 Academy Award Nomination
Charlie Wilson's War Mike Nichols 1 Academy Award Nomination
Chicago 10 Brett Morgen
2008 The Visitor Thomas McCarthy 1 Academy Award Nomination
Standard Operating Procedure Errol Morris
Pressure Cooker Mark Becker
Jennifer Grausman
TV and DVD release only
Food, Inc. Robert Kenner 1 Academy Award Nomination
The Cove Louie Psihoyos 1 Academy Award Nomination
  • 1 Win, Best Documentary
2009 The Soloist Joe Wright
The Informant! Steven Soderbergh 1 Golden Globe Nomination
2010 Oceans Jacques Perrin
Jacques Cluzaud
The Crazies Breck Eisner
Casino Jack and the United States of Money Alex Gibney
Furry Vengeance Roger Kumble
Countdown to Zero Lucy Walker
Waiting for "Superman" Davis Guggenheim
Fair Game Doug Liman
Cane Toads: The Conquest Mark Lewis
Climate of Change Brian Hill
2011 The Beaver Jodie Foster
Page One: Inside the New York Times Andrew Rossi
The Help Tate Taylor 4 Academy Award Nominations

5 Golden Globe Nominations

  • 1 Win, Best Supporting Actress (Spencer)
Circumstance Maryam Keshavarz
Contagion Steven Soderbergh
2012 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel John Madden 1 Golden Globe nomination

1 SAG Awards nomination

Last Call at the Oasis Jessica Yu [122]
Lincoln Steven Spielberg 12 Academy Award nominations

7 Golden Globe nominations

4 SAG Awards nominations

  • 2 wins: Male Actor in a Leading Role (Daniel Day-Lewis), Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Tommy Lee Jones)
Middle of Nowhere Ava DuVernay [124]
A Place at the Table Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush [125]
Promised Land Gus van Sant [126]
State 194 Dan Setton [127]
2013 99%–The Occupy Wall St. Collaborative Film Aaron Aites, Audrey Ewell, Nina Krstic, Lucian Read [128]
El Ardor Pablo Fendrik [129]
Chavez Diego Luna [130]
The Fifth Estate Bill Condon [131]
No Pablo Larraín 1 Academy Award nomination [112][132][133]
Out of the Dark Lluis Quilez [134]
Snitch Ric Roman Waugh[135]
2014 The Hundred-Foot Journey Lasse Hallström [136]
A Most Violent Year J. C. Chandor [137] co-production with A24
Citizenfour Laura Poitras 1 Academy Award Nomination, many other awards
  • 1 Win, Best Documentary
co-production with Radius-TWC
2015 The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel John Madden [138]
Beasts of No Nation Cary Fukunaga [139] co-production with Netflix, Red Crown Productions and Bleecker Street
Bridge of Spies Steven Spielberg co-production with Fox 2000 Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, Studio Babelsberg and Marc Platt Productions
Our Brand Is Crisis David Gordon Green co-production with Warner Bros.
He Named Me Malala Davis Guggenheim co-production with Fox Searchlight Pictures
2016 The Light Between Oceans co-production with DreamWorks Pictures
A Monster Calls Juan Antonio Bayona [140]
Shot Caller Ric Roman Waugh [141]


PM's new millennial targeted cable channel, Pivot, launched on August 1.[119]

The following month, Participant Media launched a Latin American production division, Participant PanAmerica, to co-finance Spanish-language films with Mexican producers. The plan calls for 12 films to be made under this division over a five-year period.[118]

On January 10, 2013, Participant Media's Lincoln received 12 Academy Award nominations. These included Best Picture, Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Supporting Actress (Sally Field), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Tony Kushner).[8]

Participant Media's television network launched in 2013.


In April, Participant Media formed Participant Television, its television division, with the naming of its president, Evan Shapiro.[115] Participant also took an equity stake in Cineflix Media Canada-based TV producer and distributor.[116] In December, Participant continued its move into television with the purchase of the Documentary Channel and Halogen TV's distribution assets to be combined into a new cable channel within its TV division.[117]

Three weeks later, in February 2012, Participant Media announced that it was partnering with Summit Entertainment, Image Nation (formerly Imagenation Abu Dhabi), Spanish production company Apaches Entertainment, and Colombian production company Dynamo to produce a supernatural horror film about an American oil company executive who moves his family into a house in a small city in the South American nation of Colombia only to find the home is haunted. The company announced the Spanish director Luis Quilez would direct from an script Alex and David Pastor (who developed their script with funding from Participant).[114]

In January 2012, Participant Media made its first investment in a non-English-language film, the forthcoming Pablo Larraín motion picture No (starring Gael Garcia Bernal).[112] The semi-biographical film tells the story of a man who initiates an upbeat, innocuous advertising campaign that helps to unseat Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet during the 1988 plebiscite that led to the Chilean transition to democracy. The same month, however, it lost its president, Ricky Strauss, who departed the studio to become head of worldwide marketing at Walt Disney Pictures.[113]


Participant executives said in October 2011 that the studio would expand its production to make seven to twelve films a year, would begin producing features and series for television, and expand its online presence.[110] As part of this plan, in November the studio hired advertising executive Chad Boettcher to be executive vice president for social action and advocacy and 20th Century Fox executive Gary Frenkel to be senior vice president for digital products and communities.[111]

By year's end, however, there was less concern about the company's financial future. The studio's $25 million film about racial reconciliation (about a third of the production budget came from Participant),[104] The Help, cleared $100 million in late August,[105] and was just short of $200 million worldwide by late December.[106] The Help was the first film since 2010's Inception to be number one at the North American box office for three straight weekends in a row,[107] and was only unseated by another Participant Media film, Contagion.[108] The Help was nominated for four Academy Awards: The film for Best Picture, Viola Davis for Best Actress, and Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer for Best Supporting Actress. Spencer won the Oscar for her role.[109]

Quoting unnamed sources, the Times said that audiences may be turned off by Participant's relentless focus on upsetting issues.[103] The company hoped that it would change this attitude about its films (and make money) with 2011's The Help (about racial reconciliation in the American South during the 1960s) and Contagion (a Steven Soderbergh picture about the outbreak of a virulent, deadly disease).[103] Skoll also said that Participant had purchased the rights to a New York Times article about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, and that the film would likely focus not simply on oil drilling but on a number of critical issues (such as climate change and the ecological health of oceans).[103]

On June 5, The New York Times ran a major piece about the studio, declaring: "Participant Media, the film industry's most visible attempt at social entrepreneurship, turned seven this year without quite sorting out whether a company that trades in movies with a message can earn its way in a business that has been tough even for those who peddle 3-D pandas and such."[103] Author Michael Cieply noted that The Beaver, Participant's latest released, cost $20 million but had garnered just $1 million in gross box-office sales after a month in theaters – making the film a "flop".[103] The company's biggest success to date, the newspaper noted, was 2007's Charlie Wilson's War ($66.7 million in gross domestic box office revenue).[103] Skoll was quoted as saying that he had poured "hundreds of millions to date [into the company], with much more to follow", and that the studio had yet to break even.[103] Skoll and Berk, however, noted that Participant Media performs slightly above-average when compared to similarly-sized peers.[103] The advantage came in three areas: home video sales, the company's long-term attempts to build social movements around its films, and its stake in Summit Entertainment (which allowed it to win more favorable distribution terms).[103]

Based on the success of its Twilight Saga film series, Summit Entertainment announced on March 8, 2011, that it was making a $750 million debt refinancing with cash distribution to its investors, which included Participant Media.[102]


[101].Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences The following month, studio executive James Berk was one of only 180 individuals invited to join the [100] In April, Noah Manduke (former president of the consulting firm Durable Good and president of the marketing firm

The company also received a $248,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to raise awareness about access to quality food and childhood obesity.[97] The studio used these funds to create a campaign linked to its promotional efforts for the documentary film Food, Inc. and signed a deal with Active Media to help run the campaign.[97] It also signed a deal with Planet Illogica (a web site collaboratively produced by artists, filmmakers, musicians, and fashion designers) to generate a social action campaign associated with its documentary Oceans (which was released by Walt Disney Pictures).[98] The "Save My Oceans Tour" involved concerts, art installations, and screenings of Oceans on college campuses.[99]

In January 2010, Participant Media co-presented director Mark Lewis' documentary film, Cane Toads: The Conquest at the Sundance Film Festival.[92] The film, the industry newspaper Daily Variety said, was the "first specialty doc filmed in digital 3D."[92] A month later, Bonnie Stylides left Summit Entertainment to become Participant Media's senior vice-president in charge of business affairs.[93] The studio's hit documentary, Waiting for "Superman", garnered significant media attention, and Participant Media inked a worldwide distribution deal with Paramount Pictures shortly before its premiere at Sundance.[94] It also sold North American distribution rights for its documentary, Countdown to Zero, to Magnolia Pictures,[95] and distribution rights to its documentary Climate of Change to Tribeca Film (a division of Robert De Niro's Tribeca Enterprises).[96]


In September 2009, Participant Media signed an agreement with Submarine Entertainment under which Submarine would handle North American sales of its upcoming documentaries, and act as a consultant on worldwide sales of its documentaries.[91]

The company also expanded in non-film production as well. In March 2009, Participant Media agreed to conduct outreach and social advocacy efforts on behalf of the Lionsgate/Roadside Attractions documentary film The Cove (about the killing of dolphins by Japanese villagers in a cove near their fishing grounds).[89] The firm's Web site also released a new iPhone application, Givabit, which solicits charitable donations for Participant Media's nonprofit advocacy partners from iPhone users once a day.[75] In June, the company established a new book publishing subsidiary, headed by Vice President of Publishing Lynn Hirshfield (who changed titles within the company).[74] Liana Schwarz was promoted to Senior Vice President of Campaign Development and Operations.[90]

2009 saw the company continue to aggressively produce both feature films and documentaries. In January it announced that it would produce Paul Dinello's Mr. Burnout (about a burned out teacher seeking to rekindle his love of teaching)[80] and Furry Vengeance (a comedy starring Brendan Fraser about an Oregon real estate developer who is opposed by animals).[77][81] But only Furry Vengeance was produced. That same month Participant signed a five-year production and distribution deal with Summit Entertainment. The agreement, which covered titles financed by Participant's $250 million production agreement with Imagenation Media, was nonexclusive (meaning Participant could seek distribution of films by other companies) and was limited to four projects a year.[48] The agreement allowed Summit to charge a distribution fee, and to co-finance titles if it wished.[48] The pact covered home video and pay-television distribution as well.[48] Furry Vengeance was the first picture produced under the agreement.[81] In April, the company hired screenwriter Miles Chapman to pen an untitled environmentally themed action-adventure script about the hunt for a mystical gem in the heart of Africa.[82] The script went into development hell. The same month, the company agreed to co-finance (with Krasnoff/Foster Entertainment) a biographical drama titled History on Trial—which was intended to document the true story of Deborah Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish studies who was sued by Holocaust deniers for libel.[83][84] The film was not produced. The company also announced a number of productions in May 2009, including: The Crazies, a remake of the 1973 film of the same name;[85] Casino Jack and the United States of Money, a film about the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal;[86] Help Me Spread Goodness, a comedy starring and directed by Ben Stiller about a banking executive who is caught by a Nigerian Internet scam (the film was not produced);[87][88] and The Soloist, a drama starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. based on the true story of Nathaniel Ayers, a brilliant musician who develops schizophrenia and becomes homeless.[77]

Jack Abramoff (pictured), a lobbyist convicted on charges of fraud and corruption, was the subject of a Participant Media film, Casino Jack and the United States of Money. The role campaign finance and lobbying play in political corruption are among the socially relevant topics Participant Media addresses in its films.


Participant's success during awards season did not extend into 2008. The company had only three films released during the year (Every Little Step, Pressure Cooker, and Standard Operating Procedure), and none of them was nominated for an award from a major arts organization. However, in November 2008, the Producers Guild of America gave Participant founder Jeff Skoll its Visionary Award.[79]

In March, Participant announced a co-financing deal with Tapestry Films to produce Minimum Wage, a comedy about a corrupt corporate executive sentenced to live for a year on a minimum wage salary.[69] It was not produced. A month later, the company announced it and Groundswell Productions were co-financing The Informant!, a comedy directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Matt Damon about the lysine price-fixing conspiracy at Archer Daniels Midland in the mid-1990s.[76][77] July saw Participant set up a co-financing deal with three other studios to produce The Colony, an eco-horror film.[78] It, too, was never produced.

The company continued to expand its social advocacy and outreach efforts in 2008. In January 2008, it joined and made a financial contribution to a $100 million United Nations-sponsored fund which would provide backing for films which combatted religious, ethnic, racial, and other stereotypes.[70] Fueling the company's expansion was the creation of a $250 million fund with Imagenation, a start-up film studio based in the United Arab Emirates which is a division of the Abu Dhabi Media Company.[71] Each company contributed roughly half of the fund's total (although some funding came from loans).[71] Participant and Imagenation agreed to produce 18 films over the next five years, which would add approximately four feature-length films per year to Participant's existing slate.[71][72] To boost its marketing efforts, the company also hired Jeffrey Sakson as Vice President of Publicity in April 2008.[73] In September 2008, Participant Media and PublicAffairs Books signed a deal under which PublicAffairs would publish four original paperback books designed to expand upon the social messages in Participant's films.[74] The first book to be published under the pact was Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food Is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer—And What You Can Do About It.[74] The company also founded a new Web site,, to promote Participant Media's films as well as make viewers aware of the social advocacy efforts of Participant's outreach partners.[75]

In March 2008, Participant Productions changed its name to Participant Media to reflect the firm's expansion into television and non-traditional entertainment media.[69]


The 2007 awards season saw several more Academy Award nominations for the company's films. Its films had a combined seven Golden Globe Award nominations, although it won none.[67] Philip Seymour Hoffman was nominated for his supporting actor role in Charlie Wilson's War, Richard Jenkins was nominated for Best Actor in The Visitor, and Alberto Iglesias was nominated for best original score for The Kite Runner.[68] But the studio won no Oscars that year.

By the end of 2007, the company was seen as one of the key players in the production of documentary films.[66]

November saw the company sign a co-production agreement with State Street Pictures to finance the biographical dramatic film, Bobby Martinez (about teenage Latino surfing sensation, Bobby Martinez).[64] The surfing film entered development hell for nearly two years. In May 2009, the studio hired Ric Roman Waugh to rewrite the script as well as to direct the film.[65] But this film had yet to be produced by the beginning of 2012.

Five months later, in June, Participant agreed to co-produce and co-finance (with Broken Lizard) the company's first comedy film, Taildraggers (about five aimless young pilots for a regional airline in Alaska who discover that a corporate competitor is illegally pumping oil from a wildlife preserve).[62] As of June 2009, however, the film had not been produced.[63]

The following month, it announced a feature-length documentary film about the 2007 Live Earth concert, but that film was never produced either.[61]

In April, it closed a deal with Warner Independent to turn the biographical book, The Mayor of Castro Street (1982), by Randy Shilts, into a film.[60] That film entered development hell and was not made.

In January, it said it was co-financing the drama film The Kite Runner (2007) with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and DreamWorks.[52] That spring, the company took an equity position in Angels in the Dust (2007), a documentary film about children orphaned by AIDS, and paid the filmmaker to update the film and shoot more footage.[7]

The company also announced additional productions.

In November, the company signed a deal with actress Natalie Portman's newly formed production company, Handsomecharlie Films, under which the two studios would co-produce socially relevant films for a two-year period. No films were produced under this agreement, however.[58] The same month, the company hired veteran Showtime producer John Moser to oversee development and production of original programs for television and home cable.[59] But despite the management activity and expansion, not all of the company's films did well. Chicago 10 did not sell for several months after it premiered at Sundance, and only significant editing and a reduction in running time led to a distribution deal.[7]

Lynn Hirshfield was hired in May as Vice President of Business Development to launch the company's publishing division.[56] In mid-June, the company hired Bonnie Abaunza and Liana Schwarz each as Vice President of Social Action Campaign Development and Operations to assist with social outreach and advocacy campaigns.[57]

February saw the hire of Adrian Sexton as Executive Vice President to oversee digital and global media projects,[54] and April saw veteran production head Jonathan King join the company as Executive Vice President of Production.[55]

On January 8, the company hired motion-picture marketing veterans Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones (each with the title of Executive Vice President of Marketing) to coordinate marketing of the company's films.[52] Eight days later, the company hired Tony Award- and Emmy Award-winning event producer John Schreiber as Executive Vice President of Social Action and Advocacy to enhance the company's earned media, non-profit and corporate outreach and advocacy campaigns.[53]

Corporate growth continued in 2007.


The company's success continued through the 2006 awards season. An Inconvenient Truth was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and the song "I Need to Wake Up" (by Melissa Etheridge) nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.[49] The film and song won their respective categories in February 2007.[50][51]

  • The company was also one of the backers in April 2006 which invested $1 billion in Summit Entertainment, allowing that company to restructure itself as a full-fledged film studio.[47][48] This did not become known, however, for near three years.[48]

Three major corporate events also occurred in 2006.

The company also co-financed, with Warner Independent Pictures, the documentary film Darfur Now (2007),[43] and, with Universal Studios and others, co-financed the biographical film Charlie Wilson's War (2007).[44] The film had the biggest budget of any of the company's films since Syriana.[7]

Finally, in December, the company agreed to finance and produce the documentary film Man from Plains (2007), directed by Jonathan Demme, that followed former U.S. President Jimmy Carter as he promoted his political-science book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid (2006).[42]

The company also took an equity position in and a co-production credit for Chicago 10 (2007), an animated documentary film about the 1969 Chicago Seven conspiracy trial.[40][41]

In September, the company entered into an agreement to co-produce the drama film The Visitor (2008) with Groundswell Productions,[38] and two months later agreed to co-produce (with Sony Pictures Classics) a documentary film about the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, Standard Operating Procedure (2008), directed by Errol Morris.[39]

In June, the company announced it would partner with New Line Cinema (a subsidiary of Warner Bros.) to produce The Crusaders, a drama about Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), a landmark ruling of the Supreme Court of the United States which ended racial segregation in public schools.[37] But the film never got beyond the development stage.

Five more films were announced in 2006.

Jeffrey Skoll (pictured with actress Meg Ryan in 2007), founder and chief executive officer of Participant Media, stepped down in 2006 after appointing James Berk to be chief executive officer.


The company had a very successful 2005 awards season, with eleven Academy Award nominations and one win.[7] Good Night, and Good Luck garnered six nominations, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role in Syriana.[36]

The company's non-film-production efforts continued to grow as well. The company provided an undisclosed amount of financing in February 2005 to film distributor Emerging Pictures to finance that company's national network of digitally equipped cinemas (with Emerging Pictures distributing Participant's films).[32] The company also began its first socially relevant outreach project, helping to finance screenings of the biographical film Gandhi (1982) in the Palestinian territories for the first time as well as in the countries of Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.[33] In support of its upcoming film, An Inconvenient Truth, the studio negotiated a deal whereby distributor Paramount Classics would donate five percent of its U.S. domestic theatrical gross box-office receipts (with a minimum guarantee of $500,000) to the Alliance for Climate Protection.[34]

As the production schedule grew heavier, the company added staff. earned media.[30] Diane Weyermann, director of the Sundance Institute's Documentary Film Program, joined the company in October 2005 as Executive Vice President of Documentary Production.[31]

The company continued to mature and grow, however. The company announced in March 2005 that it would co-executive produce the Warner Bros. drama film Good Night, and Good Luck (2005).[22] At the Cannes Film Festival in May 2005, the company bought the right to distribute the forthcoming drama film Fast Food Nation (2006), directed by Richard Linklater, in North America in return for an equity stake in the film.[23][24] A month later, it bought the distribution rights to the documentary film Murderball (2005) in return for an equity stake in the film.[25] It also executive produced and co-financed Al Gore's global-warming documentary film, An Inconvenient Truth (2006).[17][26][27][28]

In 2005, the company suffered its first stumble. It again agreed to co-finance a picture with Warner Bros., this time Vadim Perelman's second feature, Truce.[19] Although Perelman claimed he had "never been moved by a script to such an extent",[19] the film never went into production.[20] North Country did poorly at the box office despite having recent Academy Award-winner Charlize Theron in the lead.[7] The World According to Sesame Street never found a distributor for theatrical release, and eventually only aired on PBS television, Sesame Street's broadcast home.[7] In June 2005, the company agreed to produce Luna, a film based on the non-fiction book The Legacy of Luna (2005), the real-life story about a woman who lived in the branches of a giant redwood tree for two years to protect it from logging.[21] The film went into development hell and was not made.

Actor Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in March 2006 for his role in the company's geopolitical thriller film Syriana (2005).


Corporate history

The new company quickly announced an ambitious slate of productions. Its first film (announced on September 7, 2007) was the drama film American Gun (2005), on which IFC Films was an equity partner.[4][5] Two weeks later, the company announced a co-production deal with Warner Bros. on two films – the geopolitical thriller film Syriana (2005) and the drama film Class Action (later retitled North Country (2005)).[5][15] Participant Productions contributed half the budget of each film.[5] Its fourth production, a documentary film, was announced in November 2004. Titled The World According to Sesame Street (2005), the film examined the impact of the children's television show Sesame Street on world culture, focusing on Kosovo, Bangladesh, South Africa and El Salvador.[16][17] At the same time, the company began to implement an environmentally friendly strategy: Syriana was the company's first carbon-neutral production, and the company created carbon offsets for the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth (2006).[18]

[14] In some cases, the studio has spent years creating positive word-of-mouth with advocacy groups, which are often encouraged to use the film to push their own agendas.[4][1]

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