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Ed Helms, Hilary Swank & Ed Harris In Talks To Star In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s MRC Series ‘One Percent’

Nellie Andreeva

Ed Helms, Hilary Swank & Ed Harris In Talks To Star In Alejandro González Iñárritu’s MRC Series ‘One Percent’Alejandro González Iñárritu‘s MRC series is taking shape, with Ed Helms, Hilary Swank and Ed Harris in various stages of negotiations to topline the hour-long project. In his U.S. TV debut, the Oscar-nominated Iñárritu will direct the series, titled One Percent, which he co-created with Alexander Dinelaris, Nicolas Giacobone, and Armando Bo. MRC Logo NewThe four recently collaborated on the script of Iñárritu’s latest feature, black comedy Birdman Or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance, which has been selected to open this year’s Venice Film Festival in its world premiere and as the closing-night title for the New York Film Festival.

helmshilaryswankOne Percent is set against the backdrop of the organic farming community. Helms and Swank would play a husband and wife who are struggling professionally and personally to keep their business afloat, while Harris would play the family patriarch. MRC is expected to take the project out to buyers in a few weeks, likely seeking a straight-to-series order, which has been the company’s strategy. It has been able to secure two-season pickups for its Emmy-winning David harris2Fincher-Kevin Spacey drama House Of Cards at Netflix and the Seth MacFarlane comedy at Starz.

One Percent, which … Read More »

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Seth MacFarlane Sued Over Source Of ‘Ted’ Idea

Seth MacFarlane Sued Over Source Of ‘Ted’ IdeaThe creators of web series about a foul-mouthed teddy bear with a penchant for drinking, smoking and prostitutes has filed a copyright infringement suit against Seth MacFarlane, Universal Pictures and the producers of Ted, the 2012 film about a foul-mouthed teddy bear with a penchant for drinking, smoking and prostitutes. Bengal Mangle Productions claims that Ted “is an unlawful copy” of its own animated teddy, who was featured in two different web series, Charlie The Abusive Teddy and Acting School Academy. The suit (read it here), filed today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, states that those web series aired in 2009 and 2010 on You Tube, FunnyOrDie.com and other streaming websites.

“Both Charlie and Ted reside in a substantially similar environment, including that both Charlie and Ted spend a significant amount of time sitting on a living room couch with a beer and/or cigarette in hand,” the suit claims. “Charlie and Ted each have a substantially similar persona, verbal tone, verbal delivery, dialogue, and attitude.” Read More »

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Maryland Passes Tax Credit Legislation With Eye On Keeping ‘House Of Cards’

By | Monday April 7, 2014 @ 8:33pm PDT

House of CardsFrank 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. Read More »

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‘House Of Cards’ Delays Production On Season 3 With Maryland Tax Credit Bills In Limbo

By | Friday February 21, 2014 @ 3:26pm PST

houseofcards__130207005839-200x257Season 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 key_art_mrc_studiosproducer 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. Read More »

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MRC Buys Top-Secret Spec For ‘Oblivion’s Joseph Kosinski To Direct

By | Monday October 14, 2013 @ 11:53am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Media Rights Capital has just bought a spec package for a grounded action thriller that will be a directing vehicle for Joseph Kosinski. Kosinski followed his 2010 directing debut Tron: Legacy with the Tom Cruise-starrer Oblivion. Dylan Clark will produce. I’m told that it was a potential high six figure deal and that Kosinski hatched the idea. The script was written by Chris Cantwell & Chris Rogers. If you recall, while Kosinski was busy for years on Tron: Legacy, he hatched the idea for Oblivion and had it done as a graphic novel by Radical Publishing to serve as a template for the movie. Cantwell & Rodgers previously scripted Halt & Catch Fire, which has been picked up for series by AMC, and they have features with Bad Robot and Indian Paintbrush. Kosinski and the scribes are repped by Management 360 and Verve, latter of which is on fire lately: the agency also brokered the weekend’s 7-figure deal for the Aaron Berg spec Section 6.

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MRC, Philip K. Dick Estate Settle Spat Over ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ Rights

Mike Fleming

UPDATE, 6:08 PM: Philip K. Dick’s daughter Laura Leslie issued a statement today about the settlement between her father’s estate and Media Rights Capital. From the sound of it The Adjustment Bureau will not be the last time MRC has a hand in an adaptation of a Dick property. Take a read:

Media Rights Capital (MRC) and the Philip K. Dick Estate have resolved their claims against each other concerning The Adjustment Bureau.  The settlement includes the opportunity to work together on future Philip K. Dick Estate properties.  “The Estate is pleased to continue our relationship with MRC.  MRC’s talent-friendly executives and proven track record of producing high-quality entertainment across multiple platforms make them an ideal partner for us,” said Laura Leslie, Philip K. Dick’s daughter and trustee for the Estate.

PREVIOUSLY, 4:05 PM: EXCLUSIVE: That legal dispute between Media Rights Capital and the Philip K. Dick Estate has been settled over The Adjustment Bureau, the Matt Damon-starrer that George Nolfi wrote and directed. The film was based on the seminal sci-fi author’s short story Adjustment Team, about a man who bristles when he discovers that shadowy men are controlling his destiny. This was one of the more unusual suits to come down the line, with MRC paying some funds to secure the rights, and then finding out the work was in the public domain. Nolfi took out an option a decade … Read More »

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Universal Officially Signs On To Co-Fi Seth MacFarlane’s Western With MRC

Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Universal Pictures has formalized the much-expected arrangement to co-finance with Media Rights Capital and distribute worldwide Seth MacFarlane’s Western comedy A Million Ways To Die In The West. The studio has also set a May 30, 2014, North American release date. MacFarlane directs, produces and co-wrote the film and he plays sheep farmer Albert alongside a cast that includes Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Sarah Silverman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Neil Patrick Harris. Scott Stuber and Jason Clark are producing with MacFarlane, who wrote the script with Wellesley Wild and Alec Sulkin. They along with Universal and MRC are responsible for the global juggernaut Ted.

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MRC, Universal Fund John Lee Hancock-Helmed ‘Highwaymen;’ Liam Neeson, Woody Harrelson Courted To Play Texas Rangers Who Killed Bonnie & Clyde

By | Wednesday April 10, 2013 @ 11:03am PDT
Mike Fleming

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. Read More »

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Giovanni Ribisi Saddles Up For Seth MacFarlane Comedy

Mike Fleming

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. Read More »

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‘Ted’ Passes ‘Skyfall’ Box Office In Japan

By | Tuesday February 19, 2013 @ 3:39pm PST

Universal and MRC‘s Ted today passed Skyfall at the Japanese box office and now has grossed $32.5M in the territory, the biggest total so far in 2013. It already was the biggest R-rated comedy of all time in Japan in its fifth week in the territory, where it enjoyed four weeks in a row at No. 1 following a January 18 bow. Skyfall has grossed $32.3M since its December 1 premiere there; The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, meanwhile, has grossed $19.7M since its December 14 release; and Life Of Pi has grossed $17.4M since its January 25 bow.

Overall, Ted has grossed $317.3M internationally and more than $536M worldwide, with Japan its final stop in the release schedule.

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Deadline Big Media With David Lieberman, Episode 23

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.

Deadline Big Media, Episode 23 (MP3 format)
Deadline Big Media, Episode 23 (MP4A format) Read More »

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Media Rights Capital Raises $175M To Launch Movie Co-Financing Business

By | Wednesday February 13, 2013 @ 12:44pm PST

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. Private equity firm ABRY Partners was the lead investor in the $175M equity sale. It joins AT&T, WPP Group, and Goldman Sachs, which just increased their stakes in the independent film and TV studio that’s behind Universal’s hit film Ted and Netflix’s House Of Cards. MRC plans to use the cash to co-finance films. It will work with multiple major studios, but doesn’t have its eye on any particular projects yet. It can expect lots of offers: Studios are eager to find co-finance partners to help reduce their investment risks. And MRC can participate in several projects since it’s free to recycle returns from its investments to support other films. “MRC will approach studios as a financial partner, as well as an operating partner where we can,” MRC co-CEO and co-founder Asif Satchu says. Investment bank Moelis & Co and J.P. Morgan advised MRC and helped raise the capital. This is the first funding deal for MRC since 2011, when it closed a $350M revolving credit facility.

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‘The Raid’ Helmer Gareth Evans Makes 7-Figure Pic Deal With Media Rights Capital

By | Monday June 4, 2012 @ 9:41am PDT
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Media Rights Capital has closed a deal with Welsh writer/director Gareth Evans for his first English language action drama. Evans will make seven figures to write and direct. They are keeping the plot under wraps, but it will feature strong roles for two male stars, and the plan is to shoot in 2013 after Evans completed Raid 2. That is the sequel to The Raid: Redemption, a film that was a festival favorite at Sundance and Toronto.

That film has put Evans in high demand. He recently made a deal to develop to direct Breaking The Bank at Universal. It’s about the biggest heist in history in England, masterminded by former UFC fighter “Lightning” Lee Murray. Screen Gems is separately developing a remake of The Raid.

This is another example of MRC getting in business with an emerging talent, as the company has done with Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Neil Blomkamp. Evans is repped by WME and Management 360.

 

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MRC Fires Back At Philip K. Dick Trust With Own ‘Adjustment Bureau’ Court Action

By | Tuesday April 24, 2012 @ 3:02pm PDT

Adjustment Bureau LawsuitOne 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.” Read More »

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MRC “Couldn’t Be Happier” With Dismissal Of ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ Lawsuit

By | Friday February 17, 2012 @ 4:27pm PST

Following the dismissal of the Philip K. Dick’s lawsuit over The Adjustment Bureau, Media Rights Capital expressed relief and a sense of vindication. In its statement today, MRC said “We could not be happier for our partner George Nolfi now that the lawsuit concerning The Adjustment Bureau, brought by the heirs of the Philip K. Dick estate has been dismissed. George is not only a talented artist, but an individual of the highest integrity and to claim or suggest otherwise is both offensive and completely unwarranted.”

Attorney for Dick’s estate Justin M. Goldstein responded, “The judge’s ruling and our decision to dismiss the remaining portions of the federal case had nothing to do with the merits of any of the claims. The judge only concluded that state court is the appropriate forum for the dispute.”

When the suit was filed in October 2011, the estate alleged MRC was attempting to avoid payments for the rights to use Dick’s story for the movie that starred Matt Damon. Writer-director Nolfi had optioned the story and renewed the option multiple times. MRC eventually paid to exercise the option for more than $1.6 million. MRC then asserted that they had discovered the material was in the public domain and attempted to get their money back. The Dick estate trust then sued MRC.

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Sony TV Joins ‘House Of Cards’ Team

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, which is being directed by David Fincher, who also is an executive producer; Willimon will be the showrunner on the series. Robin Wright co-stars. Sony TV will handle worldwide distribution on the Media Right Capital project, including in the U.S., Canada, Latin America and Spain after Netflix transmits the series in those areas.

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Philip K. Dick Estate Sues Media Rights Capital Over ‘Adjustment Bureau’

By | Thursday October 27, 2011 @ 5:16pm PDT
Mike Fleming

BREAKING: Attorneys for the estate of iconic science fiction author Philip K. Dick have filed suit in US District Court in California against Media Rights Capital over what it alleges is an attempt to get out of payments for the rights to use Dick’s short story as the basis for the Matt Damon thriller The Adjustment Bureau. The complaint alleges that MRC is using the argument that the material is in the public domain. The heart of the complaint is this: When writer/director George Nolfi optioned the material from the estate in 2001, he agreed to pay $25,000 against a $1 million-$1.85 million purchase price, depending on the film’s budget, as well as 2.5% of net profits.

MRC, which bought the project in 2009 and executed the purchase of the material, paid the estate $1.4 million. The estate believes it is owed more than $500,000 that should have been paid when the film reached break even. Instead, The suit alleges that MRC has breached the contract and tried to slip out of these obligations by challenging the copyright status of the underlying material. Turns out the short story was first published on a science fiction magazine in July, 1954, but the estate claims it was done without the knowledge of the author. The first authorized publication of the material, the estate claims, came in 1973 in a collection of Dick’s stories. The complaint claims MRC concealed it would challenge the copyright … Read More »

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Syfy Developing TV Series Version Of Movie ‘The Adjustment Bureau’

Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Syfy is developing a TV series based on this year’s MRC/Universal Pictures movie The Adjustment Bureau, which was written, directed and produced by George Nolfi and starred Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. Former Smallville executive producers Darren Swimmer and Todd Slavkin are writing the TV adaptation, which is being produced by MRC. Nolfi is executive producing with Swimmer and Slavkin, with Michael Hackett, a producer on the feature, serving as co-executive producer. The 2011 sci-fi thriller, based on Philip K. Dick’s short story Adjustment Team centered on a rising politician (Damon) whose budding romance with a dancer (Blunt) is intercepted by the Adjustment Bureau, a secret organization with special powers, which uses them to ensure that people’s lives follow the chairman of the Bureau’s plan for them. MRC doesn’t normally do traditional network development, but the deal for The Adjustment Bureau stems from the fact that Syfy is a sister network of Universal Pictures, which released the MRC-produced movie. In addition to Adjustment Bureau, WME-repped Slavkin and Swimmer also are writing a high-tech character-driven procedural for NBC and Wolf Films.

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Media Rights Capital Seals $350 Million Revolving Credit Facility Over Five Years

Mike Fleming

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. Read More »

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