7 Days of Deals
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Twilight Fuels $750M Summit Refinance: Investors who took a risk in 2007 on the creation of independent studio Summit Entertainment now are reaping the rewards. The mini-major, flush with cash from its Twilight franchise, is closing $750 million in new financing that will allow it to pay off high-interest debt and award $200 million in dividends. The refinancing, arranged by J.P. Morgan, UBS AG and Los Angeles’ Liner Grode Stein law firm, consists of a $550 million loan with a term of 51/2 years and a $200 million revolving line of credit guaranteed against future revenue from movies including the two-part adaptation of Breaking Dawn, the fourth Twilight book, which is in production. So who benefits? Sharing in the dividend will be Peak Group Holdings, Summit’s main equity financier, as well as all of the senior management team, including co-chairman Rob Friedman and president Erik Feig. Peak includes investments by Suhail Rizvi’s Rizvi Traverse Management, Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media, Emilio Diez Barroso’s Nala Films and entities affiliated with the Omar Amanat family trust. Also in line to receive a dividend is a corporation owned by Summit co-chairman Patrick Wachsberger, COO Bob Hayward, president of international David Garrett and possibly others. Among the entities in line to have their debt paid back with interest are GE Capital, the bank holding company CIT, Comerica Bank, the D.E. Shaw Group and the Aramid Entertainment Fund. “It gives them a considerable amount of financial breathing room for the next couple years,” analyst Harold Vogel says of the deal. But, he warns, “it doesn’t guarantee that the Twilight series can be replicated.” — Alex Ben Block
Macy’s Parade Movie Floated
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade: The Movie? Producers Scott Glassgold and Raymond Brothers of IAM Entertainment have closed a deal for rights to develop a film centering on the department store’s annual parade in New York. “We’re aiming to make a four-quadrant, family-friendly film somewhere in that Night at the Museum, Elf sweet spot,” Glassgold says. The duo have begun meeting with writers and are exploring various concepts, even one in which the floats spring to life. To persuade the department store to bless the project, Glassgold and Brothers commissioned artist Joel Venti, who storyboarded the second Museum pic and Thor, to help with the presentation, which won over store execs. Says Macy’s senior vp Robin Hall, “We are always searching for the next Miracle on 34th Street.” — Borys Kit
Alcon Entertainment is acquiring film, TV and ancillary rights to the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner with an eye toward producing prequels and sequels. The original film, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, was based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and released by Warner Bros., where Alcon is based.
Diane Lane (WME, Hyler Management, Weissmann Wolff) has closed a deal to play Martha Kent, Earth mother to Superman/Clark Kent, in Warner Bros.’ Superman reboot from director Zack Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan. Henry Cavill stars as the Man of Steel.
Tom Hanks (CAA, Loeb & Loeb) and Tim Allen (WME, Messina Baker, Ziffren Brittenham), whose voices power Disney’s Toy Story franchise, will co-star in the studio’s Jungle Cruise. The live-action adaptation of the Disneyland ride is being produced by Mandeville’s David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman.
Theater giants AMC and Regal are getting into the distribution business, launching Open Road Films with plans to release eight to 10 films a year, beginning in 2011.
Producer Gale Anne Hurd and her Valhalla Motion Pictures have picked up The Nameless, a spec by scribe Chris Bullett (Gersh, ROAR) set in a secret facility operated by the federal witness-protection program. The project will likely be financed independently.
Alec Baldwin (CAA) and former Dancing With the Stars pro Julianne Hough (CAA, Azoff Geary Paul, King Holmes) have signed to star with Tom Cruise in Rock of Ages, New Line’s adaptation of the Broadway musical. Adam Shankman is directing from a script by Chris D’Arienzo.
Sony is negotiating to pick up a dark Peter Pan project that has Channing Tatum (UTA, Management 360, Stone Meyer) attached to star, with Billy Ray (CAA, Management 360, Lichter Grossman) writing and Joe Roth producing.
Universal is picking up The Insane Laws, a relationship comedy from writer-director Jeremy Garelick (UTA, Principato Young, Morris Yorn) out of turnaround from Columbia. The project will serve as a vehicle for Vince Vaughn (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman), who starred in The Break-Up, co-written by Garelick.
Universal has bought Dirty Grandpa, a comedy spec from John Phillips (ICM). Barry Josephson is producing the R-rated tale of a sexually aggressive grandfather on a road trip with his straight-laced grandson.
Writer-directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Bad Santa, I Love You Phillip Morris) have launched Zaftig Films with former Benderspink manager Charlie Gogolak. The duo’s (WME, Benderspink, McKuin Frankel) new comedy, Crazy, Stupid, Love, is set for a July release through Warner Bros.
Mira Sorvino (ICM, Untitled, Lichter Grossman) and Dermot Mulroney (ICM, Jackoway Tyerman) will star in the indie drama Trade of Innocents, about a couple who rescues girls sold into sex slavery. Christopher Bessette wrote and will direct.
Kevin Spacey (CAA, Joanne Horowitz, Hansen Jacobson) is on board to star in and exec produce House of Cards, an independent hourlong drama project for Media Rights Capital. David Fincher will direct the pilot and exec produce the series with Eric Roth, Josh Donen and Spacey’s Trigger Street Productions partner Dana Brunetti. Beau Willimon (The Ides of March) wrote the pilot and will also serve as an executive producer.
Anjelica Huston (WME, Gray Angel, Ziffren Brittenham) has joined NBC’s musical pilot Smash. Steven Spielberg is executive producing alongside Justin Falvey, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
Ginnifer Goodwin (WME, John Carrabino) has joined Once Upon a Time as Snow White in the ABC drama pilot.
Cary Elwes (APA, Kritzer Levine, Hansen Jacobson) and Pedro Pascal (Innovative Artists, Authentic Talent) have been cast in David E. Kelley’s Wonder Woman at NBC. Elizabeth Hurley (UTA) is finalizing a deal to guest star.
Jim Caviezel (ICM, J. Frank Stewart) will star in J.J. Abrams and Jonah Nolan’s CBS drama pilot Person of Interest.
Ugly Betty scene-stealer Becki Newton (Gersh, Management 360) has been cast in the CBS pilot formerly known as HomeGrown, from writers/executive producers Jackie and Jeff Filgo (The New Adventures of Old Christine).
Australian actor Christopher Egan (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman) will star as the title character in the ABC drama pilot Poe, and Tabrett Bethell (WME) has been cast as his muse/love interest.
Stephen Tobolowsky (Innovative Artists, Framework Entertainment) and Brandon T. Jackson (CAA, ML Management) have been cast in the CBS pilot Hail Mary, opposite Minnie Driver.
After recently settling a legal battle with the Hidden Beach label, singer-songwriter Jill Scott has signed a distribution deal with Warner Bros. Records.
Actress and best-selling author Jenny McCarthy has signed with WME. … Swedish actor Mikael Persbrandt, who stars in the foreign-language Oscar winner In a Better World and will appear in The Hobbit, has signed with ICM. … Brian K. Vaughan, the award-winning creator of the comic book series Y: The Last Man and Runaways, has signed with Verve. … Spanish actor Alex Gonzalez, who plays Riptide in Fox’s upcoming X-Men: First Class, has signed with UTA. … Writer-director Conrad Vernon, who co-directed Monsters vs. Aliens and Shrek 2, has signed with UTA. … TV director Tim Hunter (Mad Men, Glee, Breaking Bad) has signed with APA. … Emmy-nominated TV director Ian Toynton, who has worked on 24, The O.C. and Bones, has signed with CAA. … Emmy-winning TV producer Norm Hiscock (King of the Hill, Parks and Recreation) has signed with CAA.