Cannes: The One Percent Flocks to Film Investment

Bruno Wu - P 2013
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Bruno Wu - P 2013

UPDATED: As the rich get richer, they flood Cannes looking for better returns on their millions with at least four new financing companies.

A flurry of new film financing ventures are being announced in Cannes this year as the rich get richer and realize the independent film business can provide a better return than traditional investment routes.

On Friday, former indie agent Cassian Elwes, who has become a prolific financier and producer, and Robert Ogden Barnum (who did gigs at Benaroya Pictures and Annapurna Pictures) announced the launch of e2b Capital. Working with producers, talent agencies and foreign sales companies, e2b will arrange equity financing, gap financing and other debt solutions for 10 to 12 titles a year.

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The L.A.-based venture will be backed by five yet-to-be revealed production companies with access to equity, Elwes and Barnum tell The Hollywood Reporter. The duo have collaborated on a number of films in the past several years and are in Cannes to celebrate the world premiere of J.C. Chandor’s All is Lost, starring Robert Redford, and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.

Elwes says financing a film through a combination of equity, tax incentives and foreign pre-sales provides a “guaranteeable return.” Combined ?with the powerful allure of the movie business, ?that makes the film an attractive investment for ?the superrich.

“If you’re a rich person or a private company looking to invest and you go to the bank, you’ll get 1 percent interest or less,” Elwes said. “If you are a debt investor in the independent film business, you’ll get 15 percent back. And if you’re an equity player, you’ll get 20 percent.”

On Friday in Cannes, wealthy Russian-born actor and producer Arcadiy Golubovich and longtime Hollywood producer Tim O’Hair launched their new production and financing company, Primeridian Entertainment. The first film will be a biopic of famed Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn directed by Cyrus Nowrasteh.

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British private equity sources, including high-?net-worth individuals are the cash behind Wentworth Media & Arts, a new production group headed by former EMI chairman Eric Nicoli that ?also launched here Friday. The venture plans to develop, produce and fund projects with budgets ?of up to $15 million.

The fourth and final new financing vehicle announced Friday was a joint venture between ?Bruno Wu’s Seven Stars Entertainment and French film mogul and producer Pierre-Ange Le Pogam (Grace of Monaco) and his company Stone Angels to form Angel Storm, which will develop and produce action-based European-Chinese co-productions. The first two projects identified are Shanghai, which will start production early next year, and Triangle.

Another new face this year is Ivan Orlic of Siene Films, aPeruvian investor whose family’s fortune comes from fishing and real estate industries. Orlic is financing Pele, the $15 million to $20 million drama based on the life of the Brazilian soccer star, which Brian Grazer and Imagine are producing and Exclusive Media International is selling in Cannes.