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Bloomberg: Ex-Disney Boss Dick Cook Seeks $625M Equity Financing For Film Slate

By | Tuesday August 30, 2011 @ 4:27pm PDT

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.

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MGM-Sony To Partner On ’21 Jump Street’

Bond 23Total RecallThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo… the list of partnered movies keeps growing longer and longer between Sony Pictures and the reconstituted MGM:

LOS ANGELES, CA (May 18, 2011)- MGM will become a financial partner on the upcoming Sony Pictures Entertainment film 21 Jump Street, it was announced today by MGM Co-Chairmen and Chief Executive Officers Gary Barber and Roger Birnbaum and Sony Pictures Chairman and CEO Michael Lynton and Co-Chairman Amy Pascal. Sony will handle marketing and distribution, while MGM will handle select international television licensing for the film.

21 Jump Street is part of the recently announced agreement between Sony and MGM to explore co-financing opportunities on future motion pictures produced by each of the respective studios for the next five years. They have most recently partnered on the highly anticipated Bond 23, set for worldwide release on November 9, 2012.

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Kagan: ‘Rio’ And ‘Fast Five’ Only Clearly Profitable Films In April With Summer Movie Profits Poised To Fall

Don’t be fooled by the headlines this summer that likely will focus on how strong movie ticket sales look compared to last year. Researchers at SNL Kagan predict that domestic box office for the period from late April to the end of August will be up 1.7% to about $4.2 billion. Not bad – especially considering that this year’s figure counts 42 releases vs. 45 last year — right? Not so fast. When Kagan looks at all sources of income including international sales, home video, and TV, it estimates that this year’s crop will generate $4.45 billion in profits on $12.3 billion in revenues. That’s down slightly from last year’s $4.49 billion in profit on revenues of nearly $13 billion. The forecast follows Kagan’s estimate that only 2 out of 16 releases in April clearly will be profitable: Fox’s Rio and Universal’s Fast Five. Three others could be profitable for distributors, depending on the terms of their deals with exhibitors: Universal’s Hop, FilmDistrict’s Insidious, and Summit Entertainment’s Source Code.

While the studios sort through their finances, theater chains will enjoy any uptick in summer sales. Box office revenues in the first quarter for the four biggest publicly traded chains – Carmike, Cinemark, Reading International, and Regal – dropped 17.2% vs the same period last year to about $803 million. Their concession sales were down 12.6% to about $337 million, although sales per customer rose 3.2% to $2.97.

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TOLDJA! Weinstein Co & Icon UK Team Up

Here’s the official release detailing what Nikki reported back on October 11:

London/New York (November 01, 2010) – The Icon UK Group, owned by Access Industries, and The Weinstein Company (TWC) today announced a major new film finance/production fund. To be administered by Icon, the fund will focus on commercially viable films in the $5-20 million range and could potentially reach $100 million over its initial two-year period.

Under the terms of the deal, TWC will handle U.S. distribution for projects, Icon will handle UK distribution, with all other international territories split between TWC and Icon. Spearheading the fund will be Hugo Grumbar, President at Icon in the UK and David Glasser, TWC COO based in New York.

The two companies have a shared history and appreciation for a similar slate of films.  Both have recently distributed such titles as Nowhere Boy (2009), The Box (2009), A Single Man (2009), and The Road (2009).

“I am excited to collaborate with such quality partners, who share a similar vision of producing independent film,” said Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company.

Icon CEO Stewart Till said, “This is a great deal on two counts. Firstly, it fits our more aggressive acquisitions and production strategy, and secondly it’s a fantastic opportunity to work with a newly rejuvenated TWC.”

“As we witness the shuttering of independent film divisions at the studios, we see this collaboration of likeminded companies as a tremendous opportunity to embrace the numerous opportunities out there. Since our restructure, we are very proud of

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Gersh Bolsters Film Finance/Distribution Division

By | Thursday October 28, 2010 @ 2:30pm PDT
Mike Fleming

Looking to beef up its place in the independent film finance/distribution arenas, Gersh has promoted to partner Jay Cohen, the producer who last year joined the agency to spearhead the department. Gersh has also hired producer Jennifer Dana to work closely with Cohen to package projects and work with film funds. Dana is in post-production on the Emma Roberts-Freddie Highmore film Homework, which she produced under her Mint Pictures banner. She formed her producing company after a stint with Andrew Lauren Productions. Among the film funds repped by Gersh are Queen Nefertari Productions, Northern Lights Films and Ketchup Media. The agency is also looking to secure offshore equity from Columbia, UK and China. Read More »

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Legendary Pictures Taps China Investment

It’s a small deal — just a 3.3% investment in Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures by Hong Kong’s Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment, one of the leading production, exhibition, and distribution companies in China. Behind the scenes, I’ve learned that “The Two Skips” made the deal. That’s because Skip Paul who advises Centerview Partners (and used to be on Lew Wasserman’s MCA management team) repped the Chinese while Hollywood superlawyer Skip Brittenham advised Tull and Legendary. As you know, the private equity financier behind movies like The Dark Knight, 300, and Watchmen does a lot of co-financing with Warner Bros. This is the first offshore deal done by Tull. Here’s the statement:

September 26, 2010 — Legendary Pictures, the production company founded in 2004 by Thomas Tull, has agreed to a strategic investment from a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment (Holdings) Limited, a leading film production, distribution, and exhibition company based in Hong Kong. The investment amounts to 3.3% of Legendary’s common equity. The transaction is part of an effort to explore broader partnership opportunities in China and beyond, and was made public today in an announcement by Orange Sky Golden Harvest Entertainment in compliance with Hong Kong Stock Exchange Listing Rules in Hong Kong.

This transaction further allows Tull to steer Legendary’s mandate to diversify its content production and distribution strategies beyond filmed entertainment to other mediums not excluding digital, television and video games.

Founded in 2004, Legendary Pictures owns, produces

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Imagenation May Seal European Deal Next

I’ve learned that the Abu Dhabi-based film financier is talking to European producers in France and Germany about investing in projects. This may turn into a longer-term joint venture, like the ones Imagenation has already sealed with Hollywood producers including Parkes/Macdonald and Participant. It’s puzzled me as to why this Arab financier has not done any deals with European companies yet. It’s announced $600 million worth of joint ventures with Hollywood, yet European film companies such as Constantin of Germany or Italian producer Cattleya have their own studio links. Europe is closer to the Gulf than Los Angeles Read More »

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Ultimate Raising $18M Film/TV Fund

EXCLUSIVE: The media fund is raising money for a number of projects including 28K, written by Paul Abbott. Showtime USA is currently remaking Abbott’s Channel 4 series Shameless, while Universal turned his BBC series State of Play into the Russell Crowe movie. The urban thriller starts filming in October. Ultimate aims to establish a string of tax-effective Enterprise Investment Scheme companies. Each EIS will invest up to £2 million ($3 million) in a spread of film, TV, music, internet and theatre start-ups. For example, distributor Route One plans to release six movies and up to 40 DVDs a year. The idea is to spread the investor’s risk, while still giving him a 20% tax break.

If successful, the rolling media fund aims to raise £20 million each year.

Oliver Rothschild, founder of Buchler Rothschild Investments, is the chairman. Vice-chairman is Martin Carr, an independent feature producer who has worked with Danny Boyle in the past. Other board members include veteran director Piers Haggard, whose credits include the Beeb’s Pennies From Heaven.

This is not the first time Carr has gone down the EIS route. He used the EIS to fund gangland drama Clubbed. The film was released theatrically in the UK and France in 2009 and sold to 20 other territories on DVD. Unusually for a privately-financed EIS film, Clubbed also sold to BSkyB. But investors still not out yet. Sales agent AV Pictures has just closed a US sale. Carr and his partner Neil Thompson have pledged half their net profits from … Read More »

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David Bergstein Seeks Protective Custody Against Bankruptcy Trustee Scrutiny

By | Monday June 28, 2010 @ 1:00pm PDT
Mike Fleming

While film financier David Bergstein has been often maligned, he is much appreciated on a slow news day. Because he’s the story that keeps giving. Not long ago, Deadline told you that a bankruptcy judge appointed a trustee to seize temporary control of the assets steered by Bergstein, including the Capitol Films and ThinkFilm labels.  This came as a result of creditors seeking protection from the possibility that Bergstein would unload the library. Now, Bergstein is the one seeking protection. His lawyers filed a protective order against trustee Ronald L. Durkin and his motion to require testimony and production of documents by Bergstein and associate Frymi Biedak. The probing trustee wants to see things like computer hard drives. The trustee is one that Bergstein chose, after rejecting two nominated by the creditors.

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