Warner Bros. Closing Massive Financing Deal With Dune to Replace Legendary (Exclusive)
UPDATED: The new deal, which would also include Brett Ratner's Ratpac Entertainment, will bring $400 million-plus to the studio.
Warner Bros. is putting the finishing touches on a financing arrangement with Dune Entertainment that will back its upcoming movie slate, two well-placed sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. RatPac Entertainment, a partnership between filmmaker Brett Ratner and Australian billionaire James Packer, also will have a role in the new arrangement, says an insider.
The sources peg the value of the deal in the $400-plus million range if it closes, which will likely happen this summer. The financing would replace Legendary Entertainment, Warners' current backer, which has informed the studio that it is seeking a new partner that could be announced as early as this week.
Warner Bros. declined to comment.
Dune, the Hollywood offshoot of New York-based Dune Capital, had been with Fox since 2005, backing movies like Avatar and Marley & Me. The deal was re-upped several times and ran through August. Negotiations with Fox for another renewal broke down, and the studio closed a $400 million deal with veteran financier Chip Selig through his new company The Selig Group and Chicago-based hedge fund Magnetar. Selig had been a partner at Dune.
THR revealed in December that Ratner, whose films include Rush Hour and Tower Heist, had partnered with Packer -- who is the chairman of Crown Ltd., a massive resort and entertainment group Down Under -- to launch the company to invest in independent and studio tentpole films. Packer's father was the late Australian media mogul Kerry Packer.
It's not clear what amount RatPac is investing in the Dune/Warners deal.
Bank of America has been shopping a new deal for Warners for some months with the expectation that Legendary CEO Thomas Tull would seek a new arrangement elsewhere. Legendary has been a key partner for Warner Bros., financing a big chunk of its Batman and Hangover series, among others, as well as 75 percent of Pacific Rim, which premieres tonight and opens wide Friday.
The new Dune deal would be different than Warners' arrangement with Legendary, which could cherry-pick the movies it financed. The new deal, say sources, would cover Warners' entire movie slate and would last three or four years. One source says the arrangement also would cover a portion of Man of Steel, the pricey Superman reboot that opened in June.