Arc Productions Closes Financing Deal With Dorado Media

Hugh Laurie House Wrap Party - P 2012
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Hugh Laurie House Wrap Party - P 2012

"The Canterville Ghost," based on Oscar Wilde’s short story and starring Hugh Lurie and Stephen Fry, will be the first of a slate of CGI movies to be produced under the deal.

Arc Productions has entered into an agreement for Dorado Media and Capital to facilitate financing of at least three CGI features and TV shows, with budgets ranging from $30 million to $50 million. The projects will be produced at Arc's Toronto studio.

The first project under the pact will be The Canterville Ghost, a 90-minute CGI movie based on a 1887 short story by Oscar Wilde that has often served as source material for movies and stage shows. Produced by Melmoth Films of London, it is targeted for a Christmas 2014 release with a voice cast led by a pair of Brits: House star Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, who portrayed the Irish writer and poet in Wilde (1997). 

Fry, who also is expected to executive produce the project, worked with Laurie for six years in the 1980s on the British comedy sketch show A Bit of Fry and Laurie. In MayLaurie ended his eight-year run playing the crusty Dr. Gregory House on Fox, a stint that earned him two Golden Globes, six Emmy nominations and one of the highest salaries in the history of television.

“Dorado represents a pool of capital and has a strategy to identify and invest in feature film and television projects. Family-friendly animation properties are attractive opportunities for our investors, and we have been seeking a direction to approach this sector," said Dorado principal Johnathan Brownlee.

Brownlee mentioned Florida-based production company Skinnervision as "an excellent example of one of our capital partners who shares this view and is a major investor in this project.” 

Dorado, based in Toronto, is an investment fund that specializes in media and entertainment projects, for film and TV, with budgets from $1 million to $50 million. “Dorado forms long-term, multiproject partnerships with producers and directors who possess a strong history of creative and commercial success,” according to its website.

Arc, formerly known as Starz Animation Toronto, was sold in April 2011 to a Canadian investment group, with Starz retaining a minority stake.

“As the first project through the Dorado-Arc pipeline," said Arc president Jeff Young, "The Canterville Ghost embodies all of the qualities we are looking for in an animated feature film and will yet again allow us to showcase our creative team who continue to perform brilliantly on worldwide brands such as Barbie, Halo and Thomas the Tank Engine.”

Canterville Ghost will be directed by Kim Burdon, with a score by The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly composer Ennio Morricone (his first for a CG feature).

“Arc’s credits, including Shane Acker’s 9 and Rocket Pictures’ Gnomeo & Juliet, compelled us to knock on Arc’s door in the first place,” says Melmoth producer Robert Chandler. “The fact that they have the confidence to allocate equity funding from their slate deal with Dorado for our film is a compliment to both Melmoth and the project itself.  We are hopeful that this will be the first of many successful collaborations for the Melmoth-Dorado-Arc team.”

Melmoth, based in London, was created to produce animated family films by Jerry Hibbert, Burdon and Chandler of D’Arblay Films and Fry and Gina Carter from Sprout Pictures. 

In August, Arc announced a slate deal with Tayrona for four CG animated features. Taken together, the financing deals with Tayrona and Dorado “solidify Arc’s position in the development marketplace and implement the company’s strategy to balance its healthy service portfolio with projects in which it has an ownership position.”