EXCLUSIVE: There is a new monied production company getting off the ground here in Toronto. Ivanhoe Pictures has been launched by Ivanhoe Capital Corporation principal Robert Friedland, GreeneStreet president and co-founder John Penotti, and Beijing-based Ray Chen, the founder and chairman of Beijing Premiere Media Company.
Ivanhoe Pictures will finance and produce film and TV projects that have broad global audience appeal. They will start by seeding production opportunities in America and Asia, focusing on China, India, Korea and Japan while they pursue English and local language films in a variety of global markets. In other words, they will become a buyer, quickly, as they raise their own slate. The company will be headquartered in Hollywood, with offices in Beijing and New York. Friedland is chairman, Penotti CEO/president and Chen executive vice president.
Friedland comes to the dance after 25 years in finance, venture capital and mineral resources around the globe. From a media standpoint, Ivanhoe was an early key investor in Sina.com, the largest Chinese-language online infotainment portal and it provided venture capital when Sirius Satellite Radio was getting off the ground.
Penotti, long a player in the Gotham film community, will relocate to run the company from Los Angeles. At GreeneStreet he produced over 30 indie films that include the Oscar-nominated In The Bedroom, A Prairie Home Companion, Uptown Girls, Once In A Lifetime, Swimfan and Romance & Cigarettes.
“My long-held love of film and storytelling is a natural complement to the vision shared by John Penotti and Ray Chen,” Friedland said. “With the depths of their professional experience and guidance, Ivanhoe Pictures will be at the forefront of a thriving international film production and distribution marketplace. We will leverage Ivanhoe Capital’s resources in support of this exciting, new creative endeavor.”
Said Penotti: “This is a tremendous opportunity to find and nurture the best talent and projects worldwide. Together with Ray’s extensive experience and long-standing relationships within Greater Asia, and our infrastructure globally, we are elated to offer Ivanhoe Pictures as a new finance and production destination.”
The Chinese component of the company is intriguing, as the country continues to be a fascination for Hollywood. “In Asia, the film industry continues to grow exponentially and presents compelling opportunities for the best writing, directing and acting talent in the world,” said Chen, who started as a TV producer for China Central Television. “ Good stories are global—not culturally specific—and we are proud to be part of this venture.”