Will Paramount Replace Chinese Slate Partner With U.S. $$$? Sept 19, 2017 10:55:09 GMT -6
Post by The Ultimate Nullifier on Sept 19, 2017 10:55:09 GMT -6
Will Paramount Replace Chinese Slate Partner With U.S. $$$? Dallas-Based Investors Circling
EXCLUSIVE: In a move that sounds imminent and which might steer at least one major Hollywood studio away from looking for slate financing partners in the perilous pond that is Mainland China, Paramount Pictures is in serious talks on a new slate funding deal with a consortium of investors led by a Dallas billionaire, sources said. I’m trying to find out who the backers will be, and will write them when we know. The deal will call for the funding of upwards of 25% of the studio slate, and run for longer than the three year term of the Chinese deal. This would be a major accomplishment for Paramount chairman/CEO Jim Gianopulos, who has been searching for funding beyond Viacom to overhaul the studio’s lagging movie slate. Insiders caution that the Chinese money could still materialize and that other suitors have met with Paramount, but I’ve heard that top studio brass just flew to Dallas and things look pretty advance with this particular consortium. No comment from the studio.
It sounds like the backers might ostensibly fill the billion dollar gap that had been promised but remains stuck in purgatory since Shanghai Film Group and Huahua Media at best delayed and at worst welched on their funding commitments. Back in January, Deadline revealed that Brad Grey had finalized a deal with those two China-based entities to fund 25% or more of the studios entire film slate for three years, including investments that were retroactive. The deal had the potential to bring $1 billion in funding, and was a way to invest capital in movies and kick start a slate of 15-17 films after the studio’s awful fiscal year that saw a loss of $455 million in 2016. This closely followed the ouster of Viacom chairman Philippe Dauman, after his plan to sell 49% of the studio to Dalian Wanda for $4.9 billion was thwarted by Shari and Sumner Redstone. As importantly, the deal was struck before a Chinese government crackdown on the flow of funds from the Middle Kingdom into Hollywood. That move has hobbled most film studios and financiers that had based the future of their companies on Chinese funding, hand in hand with the importation of their films in China.
Grey was fired last February and in May died of cancer. Gianopulos addressed the Chinese money recently in a banking conference and seemed optimistic it would still materialize.
“We do have a deal, a signed agreement,” he said. “I don’t think it’s any secret or it’s been publicly reported that the Chinese government has imposed a number of different regulatory hurdles in terms of investment by Chinese companies and sectors, in particular in entertainment. So part of it got caught up in that.
“So we haven’t received the money that we are entitled to under the deal, but we have been given continuing assurances that they’re processing it and going through it. That is a very opaque, or at best, translucent process for an American company to understand how that process works and what the timing is. But if it does not come together in a timely fashion, we have a great deal of confidence based on overtures that have come to us and relationships that I and others have that if that doesn’t work out, we would replace it in a very timely, immediate fashion.”
Gianopulos took the reins and has slowly been remaking the studio in his view. In another coup, he was able to get David Ellison’s Skydance to re-up after that company’s skirmishes with previous management led the company to set up movies elsewhere, and insiders to swear there was no chance the company would stay beyond its contract.
Presumably the new slate financier will have an opportunity to co-finance the Paramount Skydance collaborations which include a revamped version of The Terminator which Deadpool director Tim Miller is developing to direct with input from the franchise’s creator James Cameron, and another shot at the Star Trek franchise, along with the coming Transformers spinoff Bumblebee and the rebirth of Top Gun. Gianopulos has a tall order in front of him to turn around the studio, but confidence in funding big pictures is key. It sounds like he’s about to get a shot of confidence.