Berlin: Global Road Touts $1B War Chest for Film Production

Donald Tang, Rob Friedman Split - H - Getty
Credit: Getty

Donald Tang’s new venture makes a splash at the fest with an ambitious three-year plan to invest in the kind of projects CEO Rob Friedman pioneered at Lionsgate and Summit.

Donald Tang’s fast-growing mini-studio Global Road Entertainment has set out a big marker at the Berlin International Film Festival, announcing plans to spend $1 billion on film production over the next three years.

The plans were shared by Global Road’s Entertainment Division CEO Rob Friedman, president of international Rodolphe Buet and Jack Pan, president of worldwide marketing, at a presentation in Berlin on Thursday for international distributors and buyers.

"Over three years, we anticipate production spending in the $1 billion range,” Friedman told the group.

In an interview with THR ahead of Berlin, Friedman said he would be looking to make films of the style he pioneered as head of Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment. “To refer to Summit-style, Lionsgate-style product is very accurate. It’s kind of where my tastes lean,” Friedman told THR.

After two years of assembling assets through acquisition, Global Road, which combines the production and sales groups IM Global and IM Global Television and U.S. theatrical distributor Open Road Films, is now gearing up for full-scale production. Friedman said the company is targeting an output for U.S. release of about 15 films a year by 2020, of which eight to nine will be developed and produced in-house and the rest “coming either from acquisitions or opportunities, picking up projects at various stages in their development.”

For its own development slate, Global Road is looking to do one to two $100 million pictures per year and one to two $20 million films, with the rest in the mid-budget range of between $30 million to $50 million.

“Stylistically, of course everybody wants another Twilight or Hunger Games, but we’ll also be looking for Now You See Mes, and John Wicks, and La La Lands and Wonders: Movies that are either wide-release from the get-go or their ultimate intent is to be wide release,” Friedman said.

Buyers attending the presentation told THR they were impressed by the scale and ambition of Global Road’s strategy. “They are definitely one to watch,” said Benjamina Mirnik-Voges managing director of eOne Entertainment Germany. “There are very few of these big films in the market right now and there are a lot of buyers looking for them.”

Global Road could be landing at just the right time for the independent market, which has been starved of big indie tentpoles of late.

China is a key component in Global Road’s international strategy. The group has a distribution license for the Chinese market — “making us pretty unique” says Friedman — and plans to directly release all its own productions in China.

One of the first will be the Blake Lively spy thriller The Rhythm Section, which Paramount is handling in most of the world but which Global Road will bow domestically and in the Middle Kingdom.

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 16 daily issue at the Berlin Film Festival.