Frank Underwood appears to have won his latest stare-down. After a tense standoff with House Of Cards producer Media Rights Capital, Maryland politicians have ended their holdout and are set to boost the state’s film tax credit program to keep the Netflix drama filming there. The General Assembly has approved the new legislation to increase the allocation ceiling from $7.5 million to $18.5 million, which likely would be enough to keep the show in the state. MRC, which had planned to start shooting the third season of the D.C.-set drama in early spring, received about $26 million in Maryland tax credits for its first two season, according to reports. The production company has been seeking a tax credit for Season 3 in line with Season 2′s $15 million, which had been impossible with Maryland’s cap at $7.5 million.
Season 3 of Netflix’s House Of Cards is holding off on beginning production until mid-June pending the outcome of two separate bills in the Maryland Legislature that would ensure another season of lucrative state tax breaks for the political drama, which just launched its Season 2 on the streaming service last week. The Emmy-nominated series set in Washington, D.C., was officially renewed for a third season earlier this month. Series producer Media Rights Capital, which planned to start shooting Season 3 in early spring, received more than $11 million in Maryland tax credits for Season 1 and Season 2′s incentives could reach $15 million, the Wall Street Journal reported today. We hear that MRC is seeking a tax credit for Season 3 in line with Season 2′s $15 million, which as of now is impossible as Maryland’s current cap is $7.5 million. The two bills, which are languishing in committee, would raise the ceiling to $11 million or $18.5 million. Deadline has confirmed that MRC has sent a letter to several politicians, including Gov. Martin O’Malley, regarding the bills. The letter (read it in full below) pulls no punches in saying that the incentives must be approved if the production were to stay in the state. “In the event sufficient incentives do not become available, we will have to break down our stage, sets and offices and set up in another state,” said the letter, signed by Charlie Goldstein, MRC’s SVP Television Production. The issue has been stirring a heated debate in the Maryland Legislature. “Is it possible that they would just leave after we gave them $31 million?” Del. C. William Frick, D-Montgomery, said during a contentious hearing last week, according to WSJ.
MRC, Universal Fund John Lee Hancock-Helmed ‘Highwaymen;’ Liam Neeson, Woody Harrelson Courted To Play Texas Rangers Who Killed Bonnie & Clyde
EXCLUSIVE: Media Rights Capital has teamed up with its Ted partner Universal Pictures to co-finance Highwaymen, a drama about the Texas Rangers that hunted and gunned down Depression Era bank robbers Bonnie & Clyde. The film is coming together for a first quarter 2014 production start. John Lee Hancock will direct and Liam Neeson and Woody Harrelson are being courted to star. The John Fusco-scripted drama focuses on legendary lawman Frank Hamer, who was coaxed by a consortium of banks to assemble a posse and end the robbery reign of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in the 1930s. Casey Silver is producing.
Hamer was an old style Texas Ranger who’d survived 100 gunfights and killed 53 people, and he focused on the duo after their gang organized a jail break and killed a guard. They’ve been talking about this feature for awhile, but they will most certainly come after a miniseries on the same subject by History and Lifetime that’s being directed by Bruce Beresford and has William Hurt playing Hamer.
EXCLUSIVE: Add Giovanni Ribisi to A Million Ways To Die In The West, the next film to star and be directed by Seth MacFarlane. Ribisi reteams with MacFarlane, who is once again teamed in this venture with Media Rights Capital, which finally rode in a big winner when it backed MacFarlane’s last film, Ted, the foul mouthed stuffed bear comedy that has now grossed over $543 million worldwide. Universal is expected to become the distributor of the Western, after releasing Ted. MacFarlane wrote the script with Ted and Family Guy cohorts Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, and Scott Stuber and Jason Clark are producing. They were producers on Ted with MacFarlane and John Jacobs.
Listen to (and share) episode 23 of our audio podcast Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman. This week Deadline Executive Editor Lieberman and host David Bloom look at a bullish CBS and its new minority stake in AXS TV; an upbeat Discovery despite missing the quarter’s expectations, Media Rights Capital’s new movie co-financing business and Time Warner’s decision get out of a very old business.
EXCLUSIVE: This is a big deal — both because it’s a new line of business for Media Rights Capital, and because the company was able to raise the cash at a time when the lending markets remain tight. P…
One day after the Philip K. Dick Testamentary Trust filed their latest Adjustment Bureau suit in state court, defendants Media Rights Capital responded. The company today filed an action in federal court to determine whether “Adjustment Team”, the Dick short story on which the 2011 film was based, is in the public domain or not. (Read the filing here.) This has been a source of contention between the parties since the film was released March 4, 2011. A court ruling could settle any suits over payments and profit participation allegedly due the trust from the film by resolving whether the trust actually had a binding ability to option rights to director George Nolfi back in 2001. “When the Philip K. Dick Trust filed its initial lawsuit in federal court, we looked forward to the court ruling on whether the underlying story to the Adjustment Bureau is in the public domain,” MRC said in a statement released today. “We were disappointed when the trust dropped its lawsuit before the court could reach a decision. The issue remains an important one, so today MRC filed an action in federal court asking the court to rule on the public domain issue. We look forward to a prompt resolution of this issue.”
Sony Pictures Television has come aboard as a distribution partner on House Of Cards, the Kevin Spacey-starring political drama series that Netflix landed in a high-profile deal back in March. Beau Willimon (The Ides Of March) wrote the pilot, …
BREAKING: Media Rights Capital partners Modi Wiczyk and Asif Satchu have closed a five-year, $350 million revolving credit facility with funding provided by a group of banks led by JPMorgan Chase, Comerica, Bank of America, SunTrust and Union Bank. The syndicate includes East West Bank, Wells Fargo, Bank Leumi and City National Bank. The funds will be used to finance MRC’s feature and television productions. MRC’s last credit facility was also $350 million over three years, secured in 2008 in the midst of the economic downturn, from a consortium of banks that included JPMorgan Chase and Comerica.
MRC, which has enjoyed strong relationships with talents and the agencies, changed its feature structure from constructing pictures it licensed for distribution to studio, (it famously made a $42.5 million deal for Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat follow-up Bruno with Universal for U.S. and English-speaking territories) to actually financing a lot of them through a five-year distribution deal with Universal Pictures. That studio has become a prime outlet for MRC fare, though it was District 9 distributor Sony Pictures that licensed the Neill Blomkamp-directed futuristic film Elysium, which stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley. It was the second MRC film for Damon, who starred with Emily Blunt in the Universal-distributed The Adjustment Bureau, which grossed $128 million worldwide. MRC is also in production on Ted, the feature directing debut of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane that stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis and will also be released by Universal. MRC has two more projects with Blomkamp and two with Fincher, among others. MRC makes the case-by-case decision whether the productions are licensed to studios or fall under its new distribution deal at Universal.
MRC, after a failed foray that involved programming the Sunday night lineup for the CW, is active on the small-screen front. MRC has The Ricky Gervais Show on HBO and is developing series that include the CBS sitcom How to Be a Gentleman with Entourage’s Kevin Dillon, and a serialized political drama for Netflix that is being produced by David Fincher and stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. In all cases, MRC makes deals that grant talent at the ground floor an ownership stake in the film or TV project.
EXCLUSIVE: Media Rights Capital has made a pre-emptive acquisition of the Jonathan Lethem novel As She Climbed Across the Table, in a package that has David Cronenberg directing, Bruce Wagner writing and Film Rites’ Steve Zaillian and Garrett Basch producing. Lethem is the author of Motherless Brooklyn.
The novel is a love triangle among an academic, his particle-physicist girlfriend, and the black hole that comes as the result of her lab experiments to replicate the origins of the universe. The physicist dumps her boyfriend to spend all her time with the black hole — which she calls Lack — and the university professor will do anything to win her back, even confronting his rival for her affections and risking a trip down a cosmic rabbit hole. The premise has comedic and thriller elements, and Film Rites brought it first to Cronenberg, who has covered dangerous and creepy obsessions in films ranging from The Fly to Crash and Dead Ringers. The film reteams Cronenberg with Wagner. Cronenberg was exec producer on Wagner’s adaptation of his own novel, I’m Losing You.
Sony Pictures has released a Red Band trailer for the Media Rights Capital comedy 30 Minutes Or Less. The R-rated laffer stars Danny McBride (who’s becoming king of the Red Band trailer) and Aziz Asari, and reunites Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer with his star Jesse Eisenberg. The film opens Aug. …