Basner gears up for birth of FilmNation

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Former Weinstein Co. and Focus Features heavyweight Glen Basner is launching his long-anticipated international sales outfit FilmNation Entertainment.

The New York-based venture will serve as the exclusive sales agent for Media Rights Capital and Samuels Media Group and has a nonexclusive multipicture deal with James D. Stern's Endgame Entertainment.

Basner's initial slate will include three thrillers financed and produced by M. Night Shyamalan and MRC's Night Chronicles banner, the first of which — John Erick Dowdle's upcoming "Devil" — he'll rep at this week's American Film Market.

Two employees will join the exec at FilmNation's late-booked Santa Monica office: director of international sales Robert Carney, a former software company veteran who will help navigate new technology and new-media venues, and sales coordinator Tara Erer. Basner hopes to build FilmNation to the size of his previous outfits, about 15-20 employees.

Despite ongoing rumors that MRC would be funding Basner's first company, the exec said that only "a small group of wealthy individuals are serving as equity investors, with no debt component to the financing." One is SMG CEO/producer Steve Samuels ("Michael Clayton"), though not his company. Basner added that the financing deals were made "before the world fell apart a month ago."

The exec headed one of the few consistently profitable divisions at the Weinstein Co. until leaving during the summer, but his comment alludes to the fact that there may have never been a worse climate to launch a film sales company. To navigate these treacherous waters, Basner said he's building it as a distribution outfit, "arming distributors with the best materials to make the argument for our prices to them."

Basner eventually would like to rep about four or five MRC features a year along with other titles. "My goal is to be about value," he said. "If I find two good films a year, then I'll have two; if I find 12, then 12."

Said MRC's Modi Wiczyk: "In today's challenging economic environment, we need a sales company who is not just selling our films but who is shepherding our projects all along the way. Glen is the best in the business."

While FilmNation will be MRC and SMG's exclusive rep, not all of their titles will be sold through the outfit. If a studio buys worldwide rights to one of their projects, the studio might handle foreign sales on that project.

Titles that may appear on FilmNation's future slate include the MRC-funded Bennett Miller project "Foxcatcher" and Endgame's Edgar Allan Poe biopic "The Raven."

Before founding the Weinstein Co.'s international sales arm in October 2005, Basner was Focus' executive vp international sales and distribution, working on such films as "Brokeback Mountain," "The Constant Gardener" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." (partialdiff)
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