Village Roadshow Pictures Entertainment today promoted CFO Matthew Velkes to the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer, the company announced. Velkes will report to Bruce Berman, Chairman and CEO of VRPE and Greg Basser, CEO of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group. “We are pleased to recognize Matthew’s enormous contributions to Village Roadshow Pictures by naming him COO. During his six years at the company, Matthew’s work has expanded beyond the financial realm to that of a full-fledged motion picture executive. His extensive relationships in the community will serve the company well as we move forward to develop our next projects,” said the duo in a statement on Thursday. Velkes joined Village Roadshow back in 2006 as CFO. Those came after stints as Senior Vice President, Motion Pictures Finance and Business Development for Twentieth Century Fox and as CFO and later COO of startup independent film company Pandemonium. Before that Velkes had a career in investment banking.
PGS To Offer ‘Stan Lee’s Mighty 7′ At Mip Market
Andy Heyward’s A Squared Entertainment is partnering with Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment and Archie Comics to produce Stan Lee’s Mighty 7. The TV movie trilogy is billed as the first-ever reality superhero show and sees Lee insert himself into the story as a writer hired by Archie Comics to create a new group of superheroes. But when a group of seven aliens crash lands near his trailer, Stan decides to teach them how to behave as superheroes to thwart the military that’s in hot pursuit. The Mighty 7 comic book began appearing last year as a bi-monthly series. PGS Entertainment is kicking off sales at Mip-TV next month with the first movie to deliver in Q4.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Village Roadshow is extending its collaboration with Lana and Andy Wachowski, joining Warner Bros. to co-produce the action sci-fier starring Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis and Sean Bean. That will be VR Entertainment Group’s fourth collaboration with the Wachowski siblings following The Matrix trilogy and Speed Racer. VREG is also partnered with WB on The Great Gatsby, All You Need is Kill and Fury Road. Village Roadshow Ltd. today announced net profit after tax of $A33.5 million ($34.3 million) in the half year to December 31, up 18.4%. The main drivers were theme parks in Australia, Arizona and Hawaii ($44.2 million in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization), film distribution in Australia ($27.2 million) and cinemas in Australia and Singapore ($25.5 million). The firm’s Gold Class Cinemas in the U.S. recorded a small loss but managing director Graham Burke tells Deadline that business is growing strongly. VREG is committed to co-produce 6-8 Hollywood films per year after renewing its joint venture with WB for five years and increasing its U.S. credit facility to $1.1 billion last November. VRL draws an annual dividend of $5 million from its 47% stake in VREG, as Burke notes the firm continues to build the library, now at 72 titles.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Warner Bros, Disney, Village Roadshow and MGM films may not be missing from Australian pay-TV screens for long, despite the decision to dissolve their joint venture The Movie Network. Each studio is negotiating with dominant platform Foxtel and Deadline has learned the first licensing deals could be signed within two weeks. That would see those studios’ films screening on Foxtel by March or earlier as part of the paybox’s unified movies service. The seven TMN channels will disappear from Foxtel on December 31 when the current contract expires. TMN shareholders had no option other than to pull the plug when Foxtel rejected any idea of the separate channels continuing. Those studios are realizing they will have to accept less lucrative terms as Foxtel cuts costs and reduces the number of movie channels after buying the other major service Showtime from Paramount, NBCUniversal, Fox, Sony and Liberty Media in October. Foxtel is poised to announce a new lineup of rebranded movie channels and a new pricing structure, perhaps as early as Sunday. TMN has appointed Deloitte as liquidators. About 10 TMN staffers are expected to be offered jobs at Foxtel.
BREAKING: Warner Bros. Entertainment and Village Roadshow Pictures Group have extended to 2017 their long-standing arrangement to co-produce and co-finance films. VRPG also renewed and upsized its now 15-year film production facility to $1.125 billion through that date. JPMorgan Chase and Rabobank continue as joint syndication agents.
The VRPG and Warner Bros co-financing arrangement has spanned 15 years and 68 films so far, with global hits that have included The Matrix trilogy, the Ocean’s Eleven films, Sherlock Holmes and Happy Feet. The co-financing program has been a cornerstone of the Warner Bros program, with Legendary Pictures also emerging as a significant player in allowing the studio to share risk in tent pole fare. Upcoming Warner Bros/VRPG films include the Ruben Fleischer-directed Gangster Squad and the Baz Luhrmann-directed The Great Gatsby.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Village Roadshow Pictures aims to step up its co-productions with Warner Bros. via a debt refinancing due to be negotiated in New York this week. Part of Los Angeles-based Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, VRP has co-produced an average of 5-7 films per year although last year the co-venture made just four. VREG intends to ramp that up to 6-8 titles annually by increasing its debt facility from $1 billion to $1.1 billion. Executives believe this is a good time to seek refinancing while interest rates are attractive and to capitalize on the value of its library of 75 films including the upcoming The Great Gatsby and Gangster Squad. Village Roadshow Limited and VREG executives are due to meet with lead bankers JP Morgan and Rabobank in New York on Wednesday to arrange a 5-year refinancing. In June VREG bolstered its balance sheet by raising $275 million in new capital in a deal with Trinity Opportunities Limited and Hong Kong-based Shikumen Capital Management Limited.
Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney
Co-producing the box office under-achievers Happy Feet Two, The Lucky One and Dark Shadows with Warner Bros. doesn’t seem to have hurt Australia’s Village Roadshow Ltd, which today announced a net profit of $A33.8M ($33.5M) for the year to June 30. That’s a 20.2% rise on the previous year. The company didn’t break out the results of its 47.6%-owned Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, which consists of Village Roadshow Pictures and the Concord Music Group. But managing director Graham Burke tells Deadline he’s happy with Village Roadshow Pictures’ performance, “We take a long-term perspective on our relationship with Warner. We put our money as a chip on the table with them.”
Burke highlighted the success of VRP’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which grossed $544M worldwide, and prospects for upcoming releases including Gangster Squad, The Great Gatsby, All You Need Is Kill, Lego and Fury Road. Burke says the 20 minutes of Great Gatsby he’s seen are “breathtaking” and he fully supports the decision to delay the release till summer 2013 to give Baz Luhrmann more time. In Oz, Roadshow Films continued as the top theatrical
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, June 28, 2012 – Village Roadshow Entertainment Group (VREG) today closed a US$380 million recapitalization that will include the injection of US$275 million in new capital as part of a six-year mezzanine and equity arrangement with Trinity Opportunities Limited (Trinity) arranged by the Company in conjunction with Hong Kong-based Shikumen Capital Management (HK) Limited (SCM).
The new capital will be used to strengthen VREG’s balance sheet, increase the number of co-financed and co-produced films by Village Roadshow Pictures (VRP) and support the continued growth of the Village Roadshow Entertainment Group Asia (VREG Asia) film business in China.
Village Roadshow Asia, Universal Among Backers For Keanu Reeves’ China-Set Directorial Debut ‘Man Of Tai Chi’
Village Roadshow Asia, China Film Group and Wanda Media Group are teaming to co-produce Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut, Man Of Tai Chi, which will be co-financed and distributed by the partners and Universal Studios. The action drama is set in modern Beijing and centers on the spiritual journey of a young martial artist (Tiger Chen) whose skills create both vast opportunities and painful choices; Reeves will co-star. Lemore Syvan is producing. The production will shoot in Beijing, Hong Kong and Macau beginning in February, and the plan is to make a film that targets the vast China market as well as the rest of the world. Village Roadshow will distribute the film in Australia, New Zealand and Singapore; China Film Group and Wanda in China; and Universal the rest of the world including the U.S. “The opportunity to get further involved in the Chinese market and to bring Chinese films to audiences around the world is important to Universal,” Universal’s President, International David Kosse said in the release announcing the project. “Man of Tai Chi has an amazing pedigree of filmmakers and we’re thrilled to be a part of Keanu’s directorial film debut.”
VILLAGE ROADSHOW PICTURES SECURES $1 BILLION FILM PRODUCTION FACILITY IN INDUSTRY’S MOST SIGNIFICANT FINANCING DEAL IN YEARS
LOS ANGELES, CA., MAY 27, 2010—Village Roadshow Pictures Group (“VRPG”) today closed a $1 billion film finance credit facility to finance its current and future slate of motion pictures. JPMorgan Chase and Rabobank acted as joint syndication agents and, with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, are co-bookrunners and co-lead arrangers.
Said Greg Basser, Chief Executive Officer of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group (“VREG”), the parent of VRPG and Concord Music Group, “At a time when capital is at a premium, we’ve managed to attract the confidence of a diverse group of investors and secure significant financing. We are grateful to all involved with the close of this deal and to our unwavering partners at Warner Bros.”
Since its formation in 1997, VRPG has been one of the industry’s leading financiers and producers of studio released motion pictures, amassing a library of 65 films, 61 of which have been released in partnership with Warner Bros. – representing the studio’s longest continuous relationship with an independent film financing and production company.
Said Bruce Berman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of VRP: “We are in the business of making movies. This new financing enables us to expand upon the solid foundation we’ve established within the industry and grow our slate of tentpole and star-driven films.”
“We have had a long, successful relationship with Village Roadshow, and are very pleased they will continue to be our partners in making
Just days after Village Roadshow finally secured its financing, two key executives are exiting. I hear that Dana Goldberg, the president of production, is leaving with a year still to go on her contract. (“Her time had come,” a source told me.) And Jeffrey Lampert, the EVP of physical production, is going to transition to a consulting role. (“They want to lean on Warner Bros for more physical production,” my insider says.)
Channing Tatum stars as an interplanetery warrior and Mila Kunis stars as a janitor who discovers she’s meant for a greater destiny in Jupiter Ascending, the latest film from Lana and Andy Wachowski. The Matrix duo most recently released the sprawling sci-fier Cloud Atlas following their 2008 bomb Speed Racer. Warner Bros. will release the sci-fi action pic and Village Roadshow co-production on July 25, 2014. Sean Bean and Eddie Redmayne also star. Check out the first trailer:
Warner Bros has slotted its earthquake actioner San Andreas for June 5, 2015. The disaster pic will be released in 2D and 3D, the studio said today. Brad Peyton directs Dwayne Johnson in the New Line- and Village Roadshow-produced movie, which centers on a massive earthquake that hits California. The big-budget film was hatched by producer Beau Flynn and scribes Jeremy Passmore & Andre Fabrizio as a pitch. Allan Loeb as well as Carlton Cuse did polishes, and the most recent draft is from Chad and Carey Hayes. Flynn’s FlynnPictureCo is producing, as is Tripp Vinson. This one’s been in the works for a while — producers went out to directors on this in December 2011 before finding Peyton. Johnson, who worked with the helmer on Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, came aboard this October to star as a rescue-chopper pilot who treks across the earthquake-devastated state in search of his estranged daughter.
So far, that key summer weekend slot has Fox’s B.O.O.: Bureau Of Otherworldly Operations, with Universal’s Jurassic World staking out the next weekend.
Ron Howard‘s adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick high-seas drama will bow wide on March 13, 2015. So far In The Heart Of The Sea has the date to itself. The film from Warner Bros and Village Roadshow Pictures marks a reteam for Howard and Oscar-nominated screenwriter Peter Morgan, who previously collaborated on Frost/Nixon and the racing pic Rush; Morgan came aboard Heart Of The Sea and worked with Howard on new drafts of Charles Leavitt’s original adaptation. A blend of fact and fiction, In The Heart Of The Sea describes in great detail how the Whaleship Essex was stalked and attacked by a sperm whale in 1820, leaving the crew adrift for 90 days and forced to turn to cannibalism. The attack on the boat largely influenced Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Chris Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Ben Whishaw, Tom Holland, Brendan Gleeson and Jordi Molla star.
George Miller is back at the helm of the franchise that launched his career nearly 35 years ago. Mel Gibson is back too — but not as the lead. Warner Bros and Village Roadshow said today that its reboot Mad Max: Fury Road will hit screens on May 15, 2015. Tom Hardy steps into the title role for the first film in the postapocalyptic series since 1985′s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Miller directed that pic, along with 1979′s Mad Max and its 1981 sequel The Road Warrior, which made Gibson an international star. The 3D Fury Road has that May 2015 opening weekend to itself for now, but it’ll arrive a mere two weeks after The Avengers: Age Of Ultron and a week before Disney sci-fi pic Tomorrowland, starring George Clooney. Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult co-star in the film written by Miller, Nick Lathouris and Brendan McCarthy. Miller also is producing with Doug Mitchell and P.J. Voeten.
Here’s a look at WB and Village Roadshow’s Valentine’s Day 2014 romance Winter’s Tale, the adaption of Mark Helprin’s novel that marks Oscar-winning scribe Akiva Goldsman’s directorial debut. Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey) and Colin Farrell star in the mythic tale of the love between a dying woman and a thief, in a time-jumping story that spans more than a century. Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint, Russell Crowe, and newcomers Ripley Sobo and Mckayla Twiggs of Broadway’s Once round out the cast:
The AFM, which gets underway tomorrow, will see a record influx of Chinese companies and execs. But that’s not the only draw for Mainland players this week. The 2013 U.S. China Film Summit kicks off today in LA with execs and talent attending that include Village Roadshow Pictures Asia CEO Ellen Eliasoph, CAA China managing director Jonah Greenberg, MPA president for Asia-Pacific, Mike Ellis, and Xiao Lu Xue, director of box office hit Finding Mr Right. Last night, an event organized by the MPAA and China’s SAPPRFT was held at Universal to celebrate the start of the third annual China International Co-Production Film Screenings. Attending were NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer, MPAA chief Chris Dodd and China Film Group vice chairman Jiao Hongfen, among others. Meyer delivered a speech in which he said, “We are focused on building new and expanded partnerships to establish long-term relationships between Universal and China.” He also noted that Universal’s “key initiatives” include “doing more co-productions and establishing an office in Beijing that will be our base of operations in China.” It further emerged that Despicable Me 2 will have a China release in early 2014. (The original Despicable Me was not released there and earlier this year, the sequel had been denied a slot.) “As Universal enters its 2nd century in …
Warner Bros has released a trailer for The Lego Movie, the Village Roadshow CGI 3D co-production that is due out February 7. Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson and Morgan Freeman provide the voices and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs pair Phil Lord & Christopher Miller wrote and directed. We know Warners already has its next Batman, but Arnett certainly seems to have put his stamp on the Caped Crusader:
EXCLUSIVE: Up and coming British actress Charlotte Riley (Easy Virtue, World Without End) has been cast in Warner Bros. and Village Roadshow’s true story tale In The Heart Of The Sea, which Ron Howard is directing from a script by Charles Leavitt. Riley’s coming off another big WB pic, the Doug Liman-directed Edge of Tomorrow, opposite Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt. In Howard’s Moby Dick-esque drama Riley will play Peggy, the beautiful and pregnant wife of Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth), a crew member aboard the whaling ship Essex. When the ship is attacked by a sperm whale, a group of survivors stay afloat for 90 days enduring disease, starvation and eventual cannibalism. Riley is repped by CAA and Conway Van Gelder Grant.
Cheyenne Jackson (United 93, Behind the Candelabra) has landed the lead in indie drama The Song. He’ll play Ben Cantor, a man who bets it all to enter a songwriting contest reality show against the better judgment of his wife, boss, and banker. Andy Lauer is directing the pic from a script by David Kauffman. Kauffman is producing alongside Page Brown. Jackson is set to sing original songs in the music-themed pic, which begins filming this month in San Antonio, NM. He’s repped by ICM and …