Virtual deal reality for Warners

Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: December 7, 2005 | Publication: Hollywood Reporter | Author: Borys Kit
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Warner Bros. Pictures has entered into a co-financing agreement with Virtual Studios Llc. that will see the companies partner on six upcoming films.

Virtual is a joint-venture company that invests equity capital in the production and distribution of major motion pictures as well as in the movie's operating companies. In October, Warners signed a deal with Relativity Media worth $528 million to invest in six films. Relativity then proved instrumental in bringing in the Virtual financing.

The films include "The Good German," starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett and Tobey Maguire and directed by Steven Soderbergh; "Blood Diamond," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Ed Zwick; "300," starring Gerard Butler and directed by Zach Snyder; "The Assassination of Jesse James," starring Brad Pitt and Sam Shepard and directed by Andrew Dominik; "Poseidon," directed by Wolfgang Petersen; and "V for Vendetta," starring Natalie Portman and directed by James McTeigue. All but "300" are slated for release next year.

Warners is increasingly looking to film financiers to share the financial burden on its films. Legendary Pictures is investing $500 million on 25 films over a period of several years, while Participant Pictures helped out in making "North Country," "Syriana" and "Good Night, and Good Luck."

"As moviemaking gets more complex, it's increasingly helpful to find partners who appreciate our intention to deliver the highest-quality entertainment and are willing to join us in assuming the challenges of making that possible," Warners' president of production Jeff Robinov said. "Virtual Studios is a terrific partner that shares our goals and believes in our methods. We look forward to an outstanding collaboration."

Said Virtual managing director Benjamin Waisbren: "This investment is an important part of our strategy to create and manage a diversified portfolio of high-quality assets in the global motion picture industry and the first step in building a long-term partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures."

In addition to the Warners deal, Virtual is a joint-venture partner in the production and acquisition of films with Initial Entertainment Group in Santa Monica-based IEG Virtual Studios and also is a private equity investor and joint-venture partner in the acquisition and distribution of films with Paris-based Exception Wild Bunch. Through VS Financial, which is a joint venture with Relativity Media, Virtual is providing single-picture financing and other forms of debt capital for the production of independent films.