Family history in film ... James Packer. Photo: Louise Kennerley
Casino mogul James Packer is heading for the bright lights of Hollywood, setting up a production company with blockbuster director Brett Ratner.
The billionaire is joining forces with Ratner to form RatPac Entertainment, which will make independent films.
It’s an odd fit but I guess drawing a long string to the bow it’s all entertainment.
A spokesman for Mr Packer confirmed the partnership with the 43-year-old director and producer, describing it as ‘‘a small private investment’’.
Mr Ratner, who directed Rush Hour, Red Dragon and X-Men: The Last Stand, told the Hollywood Reporter Ratpac will develop, produce and finance films on its own and in partnership with Hollywood studios.
‘‘We intend to build a major independent film company which not only has the ability to fully finance its films but which also offers creative independence for its filmmakers,’’ Mr Ratner said in a statement.
Fusion Strategy managing director Steve Allen said Mr Packer’s move into the film world was unexpected but not overly surprising considering that his family, particularly his father Kerry Packer, had previously been involved in the industry.
‘‘The Packers do have a long history, his father more than he, of getting into the film, mini series and television production business because it was, at least, very attractive from an investment and tax point of view,’’ he said.
The Packers have also invested in Hollywood studios, such as Lionsgate, in the past but that may have been to align supply contracts with the Nine Network when they owned it, Mr Allen said.
He said it was highly likely that Mr Packer had received some recommendation from one of his Hollywood friends, such as Tom Cruise, about Mr Ratner before deciding to go into business with him.
‘‘There would have had to be some connection,’’ Mr Allen said. ‘‘He would have known the people or liked them or Tom Cruise, his supposed mate, would have said these are good people to get into business with.
‘‘There has to be a reason. He doesn’t do things on whims. He’s not like his father.’’
While the film industry would appear an odd fit with Mr Packer’s main business interest, Crown Casino, Mr Allen said they were both essentially in the entertainment industry.
‘‘It’s an odd fit but I guess drawing a long string to the bow it’s all entertainment,’’ he said.
But he said the film industry was always risky as bankable stars and high profile directors do not guarantee hits.‘‘It’s a high risk, but can be a high profit, business,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s nothing certain in show business.’’