Film Company With 21 Oscars Is Done

Participant Media is shutting down
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2024 12:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 17, 2024 5:47 AM CDT
Film Company With 21 Oscars Is Finished
Jeff Skoll arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power" at the Arclight Hollywood, July 25, 2017, in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)

Since it was launched 20 years ago, Participant Media has racked up 21 Academy Awards for its films. Now, the end of that era: eBay co-founder (and billionaire) Jeff Skoll, who founded Participant in 2004, announced in a note to the film studio's employees Tuesday that the time had come to shut it down. "The entertainment industry has seen revolutionary changes in how content is created, distributed and consumed," Skoll wrote in the email. The New York Times calls Participant "Hollywood's pre-eminent maker of activist entertainment," while Variety uses the term "do-gooder" to refer to its content. It was behind best picture Oscar winners Green Book and Spotlight, but half of its 135 feature films were documentaries, including such well-known ones as An Inconvenient Truth and RBG, per the Hollywood Reporter.

The problem? The company never consistently made money, and the Times calls Skoll the studio's "financial lifeline." Studios and streaming services are cutting back on "niche" content, and with streaming services increasingly relying on ads, "all-audience, apolitical" movies and shows are preferred, per the Times. Nearly all of Participant's 100 employees will be laid off immediately, Deadline reports, with a skeleton crew continuing to work on the studio's remaining yet-to-be-released films, including Out of My Mind, White Bird, and BLKNWS. Other movies Participant was behind: Wonder; Promised Land; Lincoln; Shirley; Contagion; Good Night, and Good Luck; Waiting for Superman; Roma; Food, Inc.; Just Mercy; and Judas and the Black Messiah (More film studio stories.)

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