High finance: WMA bows $100 mil fund

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WMA is jumping into the film fund game, joining media-financier Screen Media International for a $100 million production and financing entity, Incentive Filmed Entertainment.

The fund will be run separately from WMA via an independent board. WMI, the agency's independent division, will package films for the fund and rep the entity and its movies. JPMorgan is taking the lead in providing capital, with film financier Aramid and private investors also contributing.

Conceived a year ago before the tightening credit crunch, the fund gives WMA a new, ready pool of funds for its projects and a venue for talent, which will come from WMA and other agencies.

"This is an attempt to be forward thinking," WMA chairman and CEO Jim Wiatt said.

It will finance between eight and 10 movies per year in the sub-$15 million range. A Griffin Dunne-directed project titled "The Position" will kick off a slate that will include everything from supernatural thrillers to comedies with overseas appeal. The company also might look to take on studio-level projects at more manageable budgets. Screen Media's Noel Lohr and David Molner and producer Robert Simonds will constitute Incentive's board.

WMI already packages and secures financing for a range of film projects, and Screen Media and Aramid fund movies as well. But the creation of an established fund will streamline packaging and production. (partialdiff)
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