Capco buys ThinkFilm for $25 mil


ORLANDO -- David Bergstein and Ron Tudor's film financing and production company Capco Group has purchased indie distributor ThinkFilm for about $25 million.

Capco plans to add several $15 million-$20 million films to ThinkFilm's annual slate and create a wider distribution network with its London-based film financing and sales outfit Capitol Films.

All Capitol films less than $20 million will be distributed domestically via ThinkFilm, while most of Capitol's larger titles will continue to be sold to U.S. studios. ThinkFilm, which has traditionally acquired films for distribution, also will begin producing more projects.

Capco plans to increase its companies' theatrical films to 25 a year and its direct-to-video features to 50 a year.

The Los Angeles-based Capco already has a few higher-budget indies like Gregory Nava's crime thriller "Bordertown," starring Antonio Banderas and Jennifer Lopez, that it will release next year via ThinkFilm. The $25 million picture will be rolled out with a $15 million-$20 million P&A budget, Bergstein said.

Capco also assumed several million dollars in debt from ThinkFilm as part of the deal, which has been widely rumored since May's Festival de Cannes. "ThinkFilm was the most inexpensive way into the U.S. market," Bergstein said with a laugh.

Bergstein will assume the role of chairman at ThinkFilm, a title he now holds at Capitol, while Tudor will be a shareholder. Executives at ThinkFilm will retain their titles and their New York and Toronto offices for the foreseeable future. The companies might merge to form a new entity, but there are no plans for that at the moment, ThinkFilm CEO Jeff Sackman said.

The new deal will give ThinkFilm the ability to prebuy projects, Bergstein added. "It opens up a universe for them to buy films for much wider distribution," he said.

Bergstein and Tudor purchased Capitol in January and placed seven titles from their production company Mobius Entertainment into Capitol's slate, including "Bordertown" and "Laws of Attraction"

ThinkFilm senior vp and chief financial officer Marc Hirshberg negotiated the deal, with CAA serving as an adviser and broker.