The mostly dreary new analysis from SNL Kagan reflects the continuing decline last year in domestic home video sales and rentals — and helps to explain why studios are so determined to expand overseas. The research firm says that the average film only recouped 46% of the release costs (negative costs plus domestic prints and advertising) from domestic box office sales and home video transactions. That’s down from 48% in 2010. Paramount’s 14 films delivered the best performance. Kagan figures the studio collected $895.5M from theaters and $242.9M in cash flow from video transactions, equal to 73% of its $1.55B in release costs. True Grit helped with domestic returns covering 134% of its $90.9M in release costs. The Weinstein Co followed with 11 films that generated $102.2M from theaters and $49.0M from home video, 70% of its $215.1M in release costs. Its top title was The King’s Speech, with a 216% return on $50.2M in release costs. Among other studios, Warner Bros also beat the industry average with a 67% return followed by DreamWorks Animation (61%) and Disney (58%). Low budget films dominate the top performing films. They include IFC Films’ Cave Of Forgotten Dreams (941% on $455,000 in release costs), Warner Bros’ Hubble 3D (754% on $2.8M), Fox Searchlight’s Another Earth (429% on $488,000), Producers Distribution’s Senna (258% on $557,000), and Rogue Pictures’ Catfish (258% on $1.6M). Top major releases included Universal’s Bridesmaids (243% on $73.9M) and Disney’s The …
EXCLUSIVE: Imagenation has experienced quite an executive shake-up in recent weeks. CEO Ed Borgerding left the Abu Dhabi-based film fund last week while COO Stefan Brunner exited shortly before that. The new CEO Michael Garin has spent the last 3½ years on the Executive Committee of Imagenation’s parent company Abu Dhabi Media Company. The former CEO of TV broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises, Garin was previously head of media at Dutch investment bank ING and before that worked at Lorimar-Telepictures, which was eventually swallowed up by Warner Bros.
I’m hearing that the reason why Borgerding left was because he was appointed by former Abu Dhabi Media Company chairman Mohamed Khalaf al Mazrouei and not its current chairman, Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei. “Ed never had a personal relationship or the trust of Mohamed,” one source tells me. “Mohamed was put in charge to change things. How do you change things? Start with the head.”
Imagenation Abu Dhabi is the $1 billion film fund launched in September 2008. It has announced a string of high-profile partnerships – including a $250 million joint venture with Participant Media, a $250 million deal with Hyde Park Entertainment, a $100 million deal with National Geographic, and a $10 million revolving development fund with producers Walter Parkes/Laurie Macdonald to invest in projects developed through their DreamWorks first-look deal. Imagenation began shooting its first local production, the coming-of-age story Sea Shadow, at the end of October.
BREAKING: The Weinstein Company is close to signing film finance veteran David Hutkin to join the company and oversee a new division called Strategic Initiatives, Investments & Banking Group. I’m told that Hutkin is in talks to come aboard as executive vice president, and will bring with him longtime colleague Vivian Tarn. Hutkin has spent 15 years working in senior structured and corporate debt underwriting within the entertainment industry at numerous banks. Most recently, he has been head of entertainment finance for the First California Bank, and before that worked for Bank of America, ICB Entertainment Finance and The Lewis Horwitz Organization. Hutkin has worked on financing for hundreds of films that include My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Monster, The Illusionist and Showtime’s The Tudors. Hutkin, who’ll be based in Los Angeles, will oversee TWC’s film funds and investor deals and report to co-CEOs Harvey and Bob Weinstein and COO David Glasser.
Australian pension fund Super Media has arranged a A$20 million facility for Fulcrum Media Finance, the Australian film and TV financier. The attraction from Super Media’s point of view is that the money will just be used to cash-flow the Australian tax rebate. In the movie business, that’s about as risk-free film finance as you can get. Super Media currently has more than A$$2.5 billion under management.
Fulcrum has provided A$30 million of finance to 20 film and TV projects in both Australia and New Zealand, representing total production value of A$230 million. The new A$20 million facility adds to Fulcrum’s existing A$50 million funding capability, provided by an institutional bank and private investors. Apart from the Australian Producer Offset, Fulcrum also offers some gap finance, discounting distribution guarantees and bridging finance. Projects that it has helped finance include this year’s Cannes Film Festival closing Australian/French co-production The Tree and UK/Australian co-production Oranges and Sunshine. Fulcrum is also entering the UK market, providing similar services around the UK tax credit.