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A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.“>
A small army of new U.S. film distributors waged a surprise invasion at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, buying high-profile titles — including ones with stars Adam Sandler, Tobey Maguire, Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta — that usually would go to established players. But the biggest curiosity was Broad Green Pictures, an outfit few had heard of until it plunked down $3 million for U.S. rights to Andrew Garfield‘s real estate drama 99 Homes.
BGP, founded by billionaire hedge fund wunderkind Gabriel Hammond, 35, and brother Daniel, 31, quietly entered the scene last year when it financed and produced Patricia Clarkson and Ben Kingsley‘s Learning to Drive.
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The indie drama world-premiered in Toronto, where U.S. rights were listed as available. But the Hammonds took them off the table, moving into distribution for that film, 99 Homes and a second Toronto buy, Samba, from directors of the French hit The Intouchables. And on Sept. 23, BGP picked up North American rights to the French drama Eden ahead of its New York Film Festival premiere.
“As we learned about the industry, we realized we needed to be able to put movies on the screen in the way the filmmaker wanted,” says Gabriel, adding that Broad Green (named for the street in Potomac, Md., where the two grew up) intends to make three to five films a year while acquiring another three to five and hiring 30 to 60 employees in the next six months. He’s CEO of BGP, while his brother, nicknamed “Lumps,” is chief creative officer
“History is littered with people announcing new distribution companies, but you need experience building a business, which my brother and I have,” says Gabriel. In 2004, he founded Alerian Capital, a successful hedge fund and pioneer of master limited partnerships. Daniel, who had a penchant for acting and writing, came to work at Alerian, and in 2010, they spun off SteelPath and sold it to OppenheimerFunds two years later.
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The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but SteelPath had assets under management of $2.6 billion (and they still control Alerian, which has $20 billion in assets). Soon, they decided to “build a business, this time on Dan’s side of the ledger,” says Gabriel.
Daniel Hammond estimates he and his brother read nearly 100 scripts before deciding to pursue Learning to Drive. “We are creating a studio from the ground up,” he says.
The siblings, now in L.A., are putting up the equity for Broad Green themselves and say they are prepared to back titles with budgets of $2.5 million to $25 million, if not more. “Today’s studios don’t cultivate talent,” says Gabriel. “We want to fix that.”
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