7 Days of Deals
Ka-ching! Who's inking on the dotted line this week.
DEAL OF THE WEEK: Who Wins and Loses As Lionsgate Buys Summit: Bella Swan, meet Katness Everdeen. Summit Entertainment, the studio behind the blockbuster Twilight franchise, is about to be gobbled up by Lionsgate, which hopes to replicate Twilight-mania with the March release of The Hunger Games.
After months of negotiations, the mini-majors have agreed to a sale price of $350 million cash, plus $50 million in stock and the assumption of about $300 million debt. The deal should give Lionsgate, which has a successful television business (Mad Men, Weeds) but has struggled recently at the box office, greater creative clout in Hollywood and increased leverage with exhibitors. And at least for now, analysts seem to like the idea of a combined company.
"We see the deal as a leveraged buyout with solid cash flow visibility for the next few years, because of Twilight," writes analyst Ben Mogil, who predicts the four Twilight films -- the final installment, Breaking Dawn: Part 2, hits theaters in November -- will generate at least $1.4 billion in revenue by 2017, more than paying back what Lionsgate will spend on the Summit acquisition.
That would be a welcome boost for Lionsgate and CEO Jon Feltheimer, who reported a loss of $24.6 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30 on sales of $358 million -- in part because film revenue dropped 36 percent due to such disappointments as Conan and Taylor Lautner's Abduction.
The most immediate beneficiaries of the deal will be Summit's investors, who will reap their second payday in a year. In March, Summit refinanced with a new $550 million loan and a $200 million credit line, allowing them to use Twilight cash to pay back investors, including Rizvi Traverse, Participant Media and top executives Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger.
Friedman and Wachsberger are expected to head the combined company's film group, helping shepherd four planned Hunger Games movies starring Jennifer Lawrence based on the best-selling trilogy by Suzanne Collins. And Wachsberger, one of the industry's top experts in international sales, should help bolster the company's bottom line.
Layoffs are expected, and the future of the Lionsgate film team headed by Joe Drake seems uncertain. But the deal should leave the publicly traded company stronger, more diversified and better able to fend off corporate raiders like Carl Icahn. -- Alex Ben Block and Georg Szalai
Rob Marshall's New Fairy Tale
Grimms' fairy tales are coming to the big screen with a musical twist thanks to Rob Marshall. Disney is reteaming with the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides director for an adaptation of Into the Woods, the 1980s Broadway musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. The project is one of two Marshall is pursuing as his next feature, along with The Thin Man for Warners with Johnny Depp attached. Marshall and producing partner John DeLuca have signed a two-year, first-look deal with Disney. Woods -- which intertwines fairy-tale characters including Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood with the story of a baker and his wife's attempt to have a family -- returns the director to the genre of his best picture Oscar winner Chicago (2002) and Nine (2009). Marshall says he and Lapine brainstormed with Jerry Bruckheimer, then brought the project to Disney's Rich Ross and Sean Bailey. Lapine's script probably will feature new songs by Sondheim. Says Marshall of the composer and lyricist: "He understands all the elements of theater -- the choreography, the book and production design -- and has an amazing sense of the whole." -- Stephen Galloway
George Clooney (CAA, Lichter Grossman) will write, direct and star in The Monuments Men, from the Robert M. Edsel book, about the U.S. effort to retrieve artwork stolen during World War II and the art experts who help the campaign. Clooney's Smoke House Pictures partner Grant Heslov with co-write the Sony project.
James Franco (CAA, James/Levy, Sloane Offer) is in negotiations to star in The Game, MGM's adaptation of Neil Strauss' best-selling book about picking up women. Brian Koppelman and David Levien are writing and directing.
Horrible Bosses 2 is in the works, with John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein (UTA), the writers behind the first New Line comedy, closing a deal to pen a sequel. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day and Jason Sudeikis are expected to star for director Seth Gordon.
Sony Pictures is in talks to finance and distribute The Apocalypse, an end-of-the-world comedy that is serving as the directorial debut of Seth Rogen (UTA, Principal, Felker Toczek) and longtime writing partner Evan Goldberg (UTA, Felker Toczek).
Playwright David Auburn (CAA, Code Entertainment, Hirsch Wallerstein) will pen A Discovery of Witches, Warner Bros.' adaptation of the supernatural fantasy novel by history professor Deborah Harkness. Denise Di Novi and Alison Greenspan are producing.
Dimension Films has picked up U.S. rights to the heist comedy The Black Marks, starring Kurt Russell, Matt Dillon and Jay Baruchel. Jonathan Sobol (A Beginner's Guide to Endings) is directing.
Amanda Seyfried (Innovative, Frankfurt Kurnit) is in final negotiations to play Cosette in Universal Pictures and Working Title's Les Miserables. She joins Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean and Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert for director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech).
Writers Erin Simon and Kimberly Karp (WME) have sold the comedy The Incredible True Story of Jessica & Drew Who Accidentally Boned on the Way to the Wedding to Fox 2000. Karen Rosenfelt and Mason Novick will produce.
Former The Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont (CAA, Jackoway Tyerman) has sold a pilot to TNT based on John Buntin's book L.A. Noir, which chronicles the battle between former Los Angeles police chief William Parker and mobster/former boxer Mickey Cohen. Darabont will write and direct the pilot as well as executive produce alongside producers Michael De Luca and Elliot Webb.
Martin Campbell (CAA, Hansen Jacobson) will executive produce and direct Shawn Ryan's ABC drama pilot The Last Resort.
The CW has ordered to pilot Cult, a crime drama from Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (WME, McKuin Frankel) and Len Goldstein. Rockne O'Bannon (WME, Jackoway Tyerman) will pen the script and serve as an executive producer.
Harry Connick Jr. (CAA) has booked a four-episode arc on NBC's Law & Order: SVU, playing a love interest for Mariska Hargitay.
Kathy Griffin (WME, Edelstein Laird) will host an hourlong weekly talk show for Bravo, set to bow in the spring. The comic also will serve up two new hourlong specials for the network this year. Bravo also greenlighted Around the World in 80 Plates, a culinary competition series from Curtis Stone and Cat Cora.
Glee graduating seniors Lea Michele (WME, Untitled), Cory Monteith (APA, Red, Hansen Jacobson) and Chris Colfer (Inphenate, Felker Toczek) will all return for season four, possibly for a show-within-the-show storyline.
Fox will launch a 90-minute animation block on Saturday nights starting in January 2013, with Adult Swim alums Nick Weidenfeld and Hend Baghdady tapped to oversee development and production.
Friday Night Lights alum Michael B. Jordan (UTA, Schiff Co., Bloom Hergott) will guest star on an episode of Fox's House.
Telenovela star William Levy (WME, Carrabino, Hirsch Wallerstein) will guest star on two episodes of VH1's Single Ladies, his first English-language series.
PBS has greenlighted Market Wars, a 20-episode reality competition series from the producers of Antiques Roadshow set to air in the summer/fall.
CBS Sunday Morning's Mo Rocca (Gersh, Greater Talent) will host a Cooking Channel special, My Grandmother's Ravioli, debuting Feb. 19.
Fox News has hired Dick Cheney's daughter Liz Cheney as a contributor and substitute host for Sean Hannity on Hannity.
Disney XD on April 1 will launch Marvel Universe, a dedicated Marvel programming block, with the new series Ultimate Spider-Man as its centerpiece.
Hugh Jackman (WME, Sloane Offer) will star in Houdini, a Broadway musical penned by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz (Wicked). Jack O'Brien (The Coast of Utopia) is set to direct.
The Taft Building in Hollywood has been sold to New York-based real estate investment firm DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners for roughly $28 million. The 12-story tower at Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street has, over the years, housed the motion picture Academy and the offices of Charlie Chaplin and Will Rogers.
Ron Burkle will become the second largest equity owner in Relativity Media after CEO Ryan Kavanaugh with the purchase of most of the interests of Elliott Capital Management. Burkle is investing $600 million to $800 million for the stake.
Artist Group International, the leading independent music-booking agency with such clients as Billy Joel, Metallica, Rod Stewart and Linkin Park, has been acquired by the entertainment arm of Burkle's Yucaipa Co., headed by Rick Stevens.
Tom Hanks (CAA, Greenberg Glusker) and his Playtone shingle are partnering with Yahoo to executive produce and star in Electric City, an animated science-fiction show. It's Yahoo's first foray into narrative storytelling,
Online video content creator Alloy Digital has acquired former WB Network CEO Joran Levin's production and talent management firm Generate.
Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Group has acquired London-based shortform video specialist ChannelFlip to improve its ability to produce content for a range of mobile devices.
30 Rock star Jane Krakowski has signed with UTA. … Rock band Alice in Chains has signed with ICM. … Napoleon Dynamite star Jon Heder, who is reprising the title role from the 2004 indie hit in an animated Fox series, has signed with Gersh. … Norwegian Jens Lien, whose feature and short directing credits include Natural Glasses and Jonny Vang, has signed with CAA. … Christine Evangelista, star of comedy pilot Dumb Girls at MTV, has signed with WME. … Joseph Sikora, who will appear alongside Tom Cruise in One Shot, has signed with UTA. … Show of Force, which created and produced two PBS doc series, including the upcoming George Clooney-narrated Half the Sky, has signed with CAA.