Dick Cook has been relatively quiet since being ousted as Walt Disney Studios chairman in September 2009, save landing a board seat at Legendary Pictures back in April. But now it appears he is making noise in a big way: Bloomberg is reporting that Cook is looking to raise $625 million in equity financing to make and distribute family-oriented films, according to a banker with knowledge of the matter.
Cook is talking to private equity, hedge funds and wealthy individuals, Bloomberg says. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed. If successful, the move would return Cook in full to the business of making movies, which he did for seven years as the Disney Studios boss (he was at Disney for 38 years, famously starting out as a ride operator at Disneyland), overseeing the creation of the lucrative Pirates of the Caribbean series among other franchises. Until now, Cook was aboard only one film project: as producer of Legendary’s Jackie Robinson biopic, which was announced in June and will be done at Warner Bros.
Legendary Pictures has announced it has made a deal to collaborate with the estate of Jackie Robinson and his widow Rachel on a feature biopic about the Brooklyn Dodgers second baseman who broke Major League Baseball’s color line. Brian Helgeland will write the script and direct the film. Legendary chairman Thomas Tull will produce and Jon Jashni will be exec producer. Notably, Dick Cook, who has been quiet since leaving as Walt Disney Studios chairman, will be an exec producer on the film, which will be made under Legendary’s overall deal at Warner Bros. Cook is on the Legendary board and he and Tull have become close. They are also big baseball fans, which led to Cook involving himself in the picture.
Hollywood has long been interested in bringing Robinson’s story to the screen. Spike Lee once tried to direct a version with Denzel Washington in the lead role. And Robert Redford has for years tried to tackle the story from the vantage point of Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers executive who signed Robinson and put him on the team. Redford has long wanted to play the role of Rickey. The project was stalled for years, though it recently got ink that it was resuscitated, mainly on the basis of Redford saying he still wanted to play the role, though there was no indication of who would fund it. Read More »
Silicon Valley venture capitalist and uber-investor Jim Breyer of Accel Partners was busy inking a $40 million investment in Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures on the day that Forbes magazine recently interviewed him. The news had not previously been disclosed until the issue came out today. But I’ve learned that this is not a straight investment: instead, Breyer purchased the shares from a previous Legendary investor whose identity is being kept secret. Through this, Breyer, a longtime friend of Tull’s, also joins the Legendary board. I’ve also learned so does Dick Cook, the former chairman of Walt Disney Studios. They join Joe Roth, the former Walt Disney and Fox movie boss turned producer, and others. The very popular Cook has been laying low since he was ousted from Disney though his movies Alice In Wonderland and Toy Story 3 were mega-earners for the Mouse House in 2010 and his Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise releases its fourquel this summer. (Johnny Depp almost didn’t want to do #4 without Cook …) I’m really glad to see Dick getting back into the game.
Given that Legendary has a seven-year, 40-picture deal with Warner Bros, “the next time you pay to stream a Warner Bros movie with Facebook credits, Accel will take a cut from both sides,” Forbes said. Palo Alto-based Breyer oversaw Accel’s $12.7 million investment in Facebook in 2005, when the social media company was valued at $100 million. It’s … Read More »