EXCLUSIVE: The LA-based equity investor Magnet Media Group, which to date has backed two movies 13 (starring Mickey Rourke) and The Experiment (with Forest Whitaker and Adrien Brody), is producing its own films from now on. Jeanette Buerling, co-founder and CEO, tells me her experience of financing her first two Magnet movies soured her. Buerling realised that being a minority equity investor in both movies left her with no control over the finished product. “We were only seen as the people writing the dumb check,” she tells me.
MMG has raised $50 million through British investors, which it can then pump up with its Comerica loan facility. Buerling says: “We are the only film company where the equity investor controls the product. If you’re a passive equity investor, your interests are not aligned with those of the sales agent and the bank.”
IM Global is selling the first two movies that MMG is fully financing under its new strategy. Halle Berry stars in Dark Tide as an ex-marine biologist who takes tourists out on fishing boats until things go disastrously wrong. The sales agent has apparently pre-sold 65% of the movie already. Filming begins in Cape Town, South Africa next month. And Mila Kunis is set to star in Cover Girl, the latest rom-com from Miss Congeniality and How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days director Donald Petrie. Kunis stars as a girl paying her way through university by being a “beard” for closeted gay guys. Shooting begins in Cambridge, England, in September.
MMG is still re-editing its remake of 13 starring Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham, Ray Winstone and 50 Cent after the first cut left distributors underwhelmed. Icon will release in Australia and the UK, Metropolitan in France and Constantin in Germany. MMG found itself in what must be a unique position after most of the other financiers — like Paramount Vantage and Oceana Media Finance — went out of business during the movie’s production. MMG may now release the film domestically itself.
Sony will release MMG’s second project The Experiment, starring Forest Whitaker and Adrien Brody, domestically. Constantin has the film for Germany.