Filmula looking to invest in more movies

Greenlights $35 million-budgeted drama 'Tweakers Delight'

Producer Johnny Lin has reworked production company Filmula with a mandate to finance two to four movies annually and has greenlighted "Tweakers Delight," a drama directed by Emir Kusturica with a $35 million budget.

Filmula also said that international rights to "Hesher," its Natalie Portman starrer that premiered this year at Sundance, have been acquired by Nu Image in a seven-figure deal. The title will be changed in international markets to "Rebel." Domestic rights already have been sold to Newmarket for a fall release.

Filmula, which recently changed its name from Dreamagine, was founded in 2008 as the producing partner of CatchPlay, a division of Via Technologies and Studio Solutions Group. Filmula has offices in Los Angeles and Taiwan.

CatchPlay is perhaps the biggest movie distributor in Taiwan and other parts of Asia. Last year, it released 45 theatricals and more than 100 direct-to-DVD titles, handling films from Relativity Media and Lionsgate, among others.

Filmula and CatchPlay are backed by Taipei-based Via, one of the world's largest manufacturers of computer chips.

The decision to make movies is part of a strategy to create, produce and acquire more product for traditional markets and digital platforms. Lin said CatchPlay operates like Netflix in Taiwan and other parts of Asia (outside of South Korea and Japan) and is developing a wireless network to deliver content to PCs, mobile and other devices.

Lin said Filmula is looking to invest $10 million-$60 million in each movie and can finance by itself or with partners. It is the sole financier on "Hesher" and "Tweakers."

"Given our financial resources," Lin said, "we don't have a cap, for which I'm very grateful. But we do have a model for sales. There's only so much you can cover on a film from foreign."

Jonathan Weisgal, a former CAA agent who exec produced "Hesher" with Lin, said Lin's group has put up whatever money that was needed during their three years of working together. Michael Roban of financier Cold Fusion, which was involved in "Hesher," concurred.

Lin said he has two films in development with projected budgets of $55 million apiece and two others that would budget out at about $25 million each. Filmula also will look to acquire film libraries and provide P&A financing on some movies.

Meanwhile, Lin has written three screenplays and recently signed for representation as a writer and producer at Untitled Management.

Lin said Kusturica will helm "Tweakers" after he finishes "Wild Roses, Tender Roses," starring Johnny Depp. Written by Sean McEwen, "Tweakers," which is yet to cast, is about a man who has 24 hours to straighten out his life or he will lose custody of his son.
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