Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: December 7, 2005 | Publication: Daily Variety | Author: DAVE McNARY
Publication/Article Link:http://www.variety.com

$528 mil deal with investor will co-finance slate of 6 pix

Warner Bros. Pictures has closed a previously announced $528 million co-financing deal with Benjamin Waisbren’s investment entity Virtual Studios to pay for half a dozen films.

Deal was first revealed two months ago via Relativity Media, which structured the deal between the studio and Virtual (Daily Variety, Oct. 7).

Tuesday’s announcement disclosed Waisbren’s involvement and included the six pics Virtual will co-finance:

“The Good German,” starring George Clooney, Cate Blanchett and Tobey Maguire, and directed by Steven Soderbergh;

“Blood Diamond,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Honsou and Jennifer Connelly, 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,” starring Kurt Russell, Josh Lucas, Richard Dreyfuss and Emmy Rossum, and directed by Wolfgang Petersen;

“V for Vendetta,” starring Natalie Portman, Hugo Weaving and Stephen Rea, directed by James McTeigue and written by Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski.

Except for “300,” all films covered under the Virtual deal are set for release next year.

Waisbren is a former bankruptcy litigator and veteran investment banker whose background includes stints at Salomon Bros. and Stark Investments. In the announcement, he cited Warner’s strong track record in production and marketing.

“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,” he added.

Virtual’s deal differs from Warner’s recent $500 million co-financing arrangement deal with financier Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures in that Virtual won’t be a producing partner. Legendary’s put up the funds for “Batman Begins” and next year’s “Superman Returns.”

“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,” said Warner’s production prexy Jeff Robinov.

Los Angeles-based Virtual Studios is also a joint venture partner with Initial Entertainment Group, a private equity investor and joint venture partner with France’s Exception Wild Bunch, and operates VS Financial with Relativity Media for single picture financing for independent films.

Earlier this year, Relativity structured a deal to provide Marvel Entertainment with a $525 million revolving line of credit from Merrill Lynch Commercial Finance Corp. It’s also raised capital for Mark Canton’s Atmosphere Entertainment and Exception Wild Bunch.

Copyright 2005 Reed Elsevier Inc.
All Rights Reserved