Sun rises on Weinstein fund

$285 mil set for Asian-themed pics

NEW YORK -- The Weinstein Co.'s $285 million Asian Film Fund is officially open for business.

The studio said in late April that it hired Goldman Sachs & Co. to raise $245 million in debt and $25 million in equity to produce, acquire, market and distribute Asian-themed films during the next six years. The Weinstein Co. also will invest $15 million of its own cash in the fund and control worldwide theatrical and DVD distribution of the films.

Comerica Bank is leading and co-arranging a consortium of banks to provide the senior debt financing, including Continental Entertainment Capital and Israel Discount Bank of New York. Mezzanine and equity financing will be provided by Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and PMA Capital Management Limited on behalf of investment funds. Weinstein will also be an equity investor in the fund, which will finance 100% of both production or acquisition costs and P&A costs.

The company expects the fund will finance 21 theatrical features and 10 straight-to-video titles, which will be released through its deal with Genius Products.

A live-action version of Walt Disney Pictures' animated film "Mulan," a modern-day remake of Akira Kurosawa's "The Seven Samurai" and the World War II actioner "Shanghai" are among the films set to be produced through the fund.