EXCLUSIVE: While Sony seemed ready to go to the altar last fall on a three-year slate finance deal with Blue Anchor Entertainment that was to bring $300M-$350M in equity spread across the Sony slate, the studio has grown very impatient that the deal hasn’t closed, and I’m told Michael Lynton is now looking at other suitors for which might be a slightly different version of the mammoth deal. I’m hearing that the lead horse might well be CitiGroup and Ben Waisbren, which until now seemed reluctant to be involved in the entertainment industry after losing money in recent ventures. They are not the only party in the mix, I’m told.
Back when Blue Anchor–led by Bloom Hergott partner John LaViolette and vet producer and former investment banker Joseph M. Singer–surfaced as the favorite to make this deal, Deadline reported that Bank of America/Merrill Lynch had also been courted for funding by the studio.
The priority here for Sony is getting this done. Now. The studio and Blue Anchor expected the money to be in place at the beginning of the year. But Blue Anchor’s backers, Longhorn Capital Management and Deutsche Bank, have been delayed by a compliance issue. The hope is that this will be cleared up soon, which means the original deal could still happen. But the patience of Sony’s Lynton and Andrew Gumpert is strained and that has led to the discussion with others who’ve come forward with different configurations of a deal. After feeling all that heat after the studio had several disappointing films last summer, risk sharing is a big part of Sony’s new strategy. The studio’s ambitions in film haven’t flagged, and that makes closing a deal fast crucial as the studio’s big pictures come into view.
No comment from the studio, but stay tuned. This could all move very quickly.