Cinetic’s Sundance party is back on. Deadline reported Wednesday that the annual party by the film sales/financing/management unit headed by John Sloss was canceled due to lack of a sponsor. But Sloss told me this evening the party is back on, although the day and location has changed. The sponsored venue Bing Bar (as in the Microsoft search engine) for the Cinetic party is on Main Street and the bash is set for Tuesday. Invitations to industry heavy hitters are forthcoming. Watch for yours.
A high point of Sundance’s annual party circuit – Cinetic’s Monday night bash at Zoom on Main Street — is apparently off. Insiders tell me that unless a last-minute sponsor comes forward, the party “likely” won’t be held. Sad, because it regularly brought out Sundance Film Festival heavy hitters while head John Sloss held impromptu meetings with distribution heads upstairs. It was a standing-room-only affair with crowds packing the sidewalk and waiting to get in. The end of an era…
UPDATE: Cinetic, the U.S. film financier, and talent agency UTA are currently raising money for a Thomas the Tank Engine movie. Josh Klausner, writer of Shrek the Third, has written the latest draft of the screenplay. Now Apax Partners, the private equity company which hopes to sell Thomas the Tank Engine by spring 2011, wants to get hundreds of millions for the kiddie property. But from whom?
Potential buyers include Disney or a big independent TV producer/distributor like Fremantle, which intends to enter children’s television. Neither Viacom/Nickelodeon, which owns Spongebob Squarepants, nor Turner/Cartoon Network are thought to be keen on buying Thomas; the famous blue engine would not be a good fit for their edgier, older-skewing programming. “As a children’s property, Thomas is running out of steam,” one insider tells me.
But back when Apax last tried to sell Thomas to Disney in 2005, Apax wanted $800M for Thomas, says a source familiar with negotiations. Disney walked away. Since then Disney has started airing the upstart Chuggington TV show, created by former executives at HIT Entertainment, the children’s character company which Apax bought in 2005.
HIT Entertainment stresses that Thomas is still the #1 pre-school brand in the U.S., UK, Australia, and Germany. It currently generates $100 million a year in revenue, compared with less than $50M in 2004. Thomas remains the best performing part of HIT’s portfolio, which includes Barney the Dinosaur and Bob the Builder. Fisher Price recently took over selling the toy range.
Bank of …