Raven Capital Management Buys Open Road for $87.5 Million

Courtesy of Kerr Hayes/Venice Film Festival
'Spotlight' (2015)

The company takes over rights to films from the now-bust U.S. distributor, including 'Chef,' 'Nightcrawler' and Oscar winner 'Spotlight.'

Open Road, the U.S. distributor that was part of Donald Tang's ambitious plans to build a global mini-studio — plans that collapsed in Chapter 11 bankruptcy last fall — has been sold.

Private equity group Raven Capital Management has closed its deal to acquire Open Road's assets — including rights to 45 released film titles — for $87.5 million, the company announced Thursday.

Raven Capital will take over rights to all finished films in the Open Road library, with the exception of the box office flop A.X.L.. The lineup includes movies such as Nightcrawler, Chef, The Grey, The Nut Job and Oscar-winner Spotlight.

Raven recently teamed with AMBI Media Group on a similar purchase of Exclusive Media Group's library of 400 titles, including Donnie Darko, Sliding Doors and Memento, among others.

But Raven did not acquire any of Open Road's unreleased titles, so the fate of the Johnny Depp thriller City of Lies remains uncertain. Open Road pulled the movie from domestic release last year just a month before it was set to hit theaters. The film — in which Depp and Forest Whitaker play a police officer and a reporter, respectively, investigating the murders of rappers Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur — has so far been released in Italy, where it grossed a respectable $1.6 million.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Raven principal and portfolio manager James Masciello said the company would be looking to exploit the Open Road library both by licensing the finished films and developing the underlying IP for future projects. “But we're not in any hurry,” he noted. "We're going to patiently continue to acquire content via libraries."

Tang's Tang Media Partners made its big Hollywood play three years ago, first by acquiring Stuart Ford's foreign sales, financing and production outfit IM Global and then buying Open Road and merging the two to form Global Road. Both Ford and Open Road boss Tom Ortenberg left the company to form rival operations: Ford's AGC Studios and Ortenberg's Briarcliff Entertainment

At last year's European Film Market in Berlin, Rob Friedman, then CEO of Global Road's entertainment division, told a packed crowd of international distributors that the company had a $1 billion war chest to invest in film productions over the next three years.

But by the end of summer it was all over. A series of box office flops — A.X.L., Hotel Artemis and Show Dogs — and irate creditors, including Israel's Bank Leumi (which sued Global Road over the unreleased City of Lies, which Leumi had backed), pushed the company over the edge. Open Road filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September.

In addition to the Open Road and Exclusive Media library, Raven Capital has recently expanded into production, providing financing for Sculptor Media, the indie group whose credits include Daniel Radcliffe-starrer Imperium and the John Travolta race-car action pic Trading Paint. The company also has a majority stake in European musicals touring company David Ian Productions.