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How Sony Pictures Answered Critics Going Into Thursday Investor Meeting With Cuts, Jeff Robinov Courtship, Blue Anchor Co-Fi

By | Monday November 18, 2013 @ 6:35pm PST
Mike Fleming

Oscar season is in full swing and is dominating attention, but the most important discussions taking place in town are being done with bankers in back rooms as heavyweight producers and co-financiers move around and will dramatically shape the future of studio event film slates for years to come. The players in the drama still to formalize landing places are Jeff Robinov and Graham King, Jerry Bruckheimer, John LaViolette and Joseph M. Singer’s Blue Anchor Entertainment. This after Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures left Warner Bros for Universal, and was replaced by Brett Ratner, James Packer and Steve Mnuchin’s RatPac Dune, which will co-finance the slates of Warner Bros going forward. Two of the next big moves seem to squarely involve Sony Pictures, whose heads Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal head into investor meetings on the Sony lot in Culver City on Thursday with some pending alliances that will greatly reshape their operations.

Related: Sony Hires Consultant To Find $100M In Showbiz Cost Cuts

The above players will be dealing in billions of dollars of production financing. RatPac Dune’s Ratner, Packer and Mnuchin fell into a right-place-at-the-right time windfall just as its Warner Bros deal commenced, and got kissed into Gravity as its first film. That put the venture off to a flying start as the film crossed the $500 million worldwide gross mark. I hear that Tull and Legendary might well get that deal underway in high style by co-financing Universal’s surefire blockbuster Jurassic World, though studio insiders said I’m getting ahead of myself because there is not yet a shooting script to show Legendary. While the RatPac Dune deal covers Warner Bros’ full slate, Tull gets to cherry-pick the films Legendary will co-finance, and the deal calls for a big Universal commitment on films that Legendary generates. This deal was papered by Uni president Jimmy Horowitz and chased aggressively by NBC Universal CEO Steve Burke as well as Donna Langley.

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EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures Soon Latest Studio Closing Big Co-Financing Film Deal

EXCLUSIVE: All of the Sony parent company brass from Japan including Kazuo Hirai are in Culver City this week for meetings to discuss among other things the film studio. Finally, here’s some good news for Amy Pascal et al. I’ve learned that Sony Pictures is in the process of closing a rich co-financing deal. Sources say the 3-year transaction could start as soon as January 1st (or whenever it closes) and covers Sony movies for at least 2014, 2015, and 2016 (but perhaps not Screen Gems’). I’m told the entity Blue Anchor Entertainment is bringing $300M-$350M in equity and there could be an additional line of credit. For instance Bank Of America/Merrill Lynch at one point was approached for $350 million – but now bankers are being asked for less. ”Sony has been searching for a co-fi partner since its deal with Relativity ended. And they became desperate this summer as all the other studios closed co-fi transactions and Sony’s movies failed,” an insider tells me. “The Sony Pictures deal will be very similar to the Fox/Chip deal, the Warners/Dune deal, and the Universal/Legendary deal. Sony expects this reduction in risk on their slate to mollify investors such as Daniel Loeb and to make Wall Street very happy.”  Read More »

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