Roadshow Films Acquires Stake In FilmNation

Glen Basner - P 2014
Courtesy of DKC PR

Glen Basner - P 2014

It will increase in-house productions from one a year to three or four

Roadshow Films, a subsidiary of Australia’s Village Roadshow Limited, is making an equity investment in FilmNation Entertainment that will allow it to ramp up from producing one movie a year to three or four a year.

FilmNation currently has the critically acclaimed movie The Imitation Game in release and in the thick of the end of year awards race.

Under the deal, a newly created U.S. subsidiary Village Roadshow (VRL) will invest $18 million of equity into FilmNation in tranches during calendar 2015, Village Roadshow told the Australian Securities Exchange Wednesday. It said it was acquiring a one-third interest in FilmNation.

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The partners said the funds are earmarked for production of two movies already announced by FilmNation. The money will not be used for distribution expenses.

The first of the two movies that will get the initial funding is The Founder, directed by John Lee Hancock, about the story of Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds.

The second movie that will be funded immediately is The Good House, to star Meryl Streep and Robert DeNiro, based on the book by Ann Leary. It is about a grandmother in a New England town who befriends a young mother new to her neighborhood, leading to dark secrets.

In May, FilmNation plans to use the money to start production on a third film, Story Of Your Life, starring Amy Adams, to be directed by Denis Villeneuve, a French-Canadian whose movie Incendies was an Oscar nominee in 2010 in the foreign language category. He also directed critic’s favorite Enemy in 2013.

FilmNation says it’s corporate strategy takes inspiration from the early days of Miramax and Focus, when they were known for sophisticated pictures that had the potential to go into wide release if successful.

FilmNation movies have a budget range of $12 million to about $30 million.

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"Partnering with such a successful and well respected company as Roadshow Films is a significant next step for us," said FilmNation CEO Glen Basner and COO, Milan Popelka.

They are partners in FilmNation along with Steven B. Samuels, Anthoni Visconsi II and Dominic Visconsi Jr. According to an announcement, all the partners will retain ownership positions in the company.

The investment is not only a way for FilmNation to grow, according to the announcement, but also a way for Roadshow Films to expand outside of Australia and New Zealand where they market and distribute movies to theaters and all ancillary platforms.

"FilmNation has a great future," said Joel Pearlman and Chris Chard of Roadshow, "and we are very optimistic that together we can continue to foster and grow the production of films that expand the company’s presence in the global entertainment marketplace."

FilmNation releases in the recent past also include Mud, starring Matthew McConaugheyA Most Wanted Man, which starred Rachel McAdams and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Movies that FilmNation will release in 2015 include Terrence Malick's Knight Of Cups, starring Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett and Natalie Portman; and J.C. Chandor's A Most Violent Year, starring Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain.

Movies that FilmNation has in post-production are: Genius starring Colin Firth, Jude Law and Nicole Kidman; John Carney's Sing Street; Anton Corbijn's Life, a true story about the friendship between James Dean and Life magazine photographer Dennis Stock; Alejandro Amenabar's Regression, starring Ethan Hawke and Emma Watson; and Nima Nourizadeh's American Ultra, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart; among others.

Village Roadshow is a public company based in Australia that operates movie and DVD distributors, movie production, movie theaters and theme parks.

The FilmNation investment is separate from Village Roadshow's longtime relationship with Warner Bros. where it has been a financing partner on movies including The Great Gatsby, The Matrix trilogy, the Oceans trilogy, Sherlock Holmes and The Lego Movie.