EXCLUSIVE: All of the Sony parent company brass from Japan including Kazuo Hirai are in Culver City this week for meetings to discuss among other things the film studio. Finally, here’s some good news for Amy Pascal et al. I’ve learned that Sony Pictures is in the process of closing a rich co-financing deal. Sources say the 3-year transaction could start as soon as January 1st (or whenever it closes) and covers Sony movies for at least 2014, 2015, and 2016 (but perhaps not Screen Gems’). I’m told the entity Blue Anchor Entertainment is bringing $300M-$350M in equity and there could be an additional line of credit. For instance Bank Of America/Merrill Lynch at one point was approached for $350 million — but now bankers are being asked for less. “Sony has been searching for a co-fi partner since its deal with Relativity ended. And they became desperate this summer as all the other studios closed co-fi transactions and Sony’s movies failed,” an insider tells me. “The Sony Pictures deal will be very similar to the Fox/Chip deal, the Warners/Dune deal, and the Universal/Legendary deal. Sony expects this reduction in risk on their slate to mollify investors such as Daniel Loeb and to make Wall Street very happy.”
I hear the Blue Anchor Entertainment principals are John LaViolette, the partner in the Beverly Hills entertainment law firm of Bloom Hergott, as well as Joseph M Singer, the movie producer of Courage Under Fire, Dante’s Peak, and Dr. Dolittle 1 and 2 who hasn’t made films since 2001 and used to work on Wall Street as an investment banker. Singer was a wunderkind producer with a reputation for putting projects together and getting them made, then a high-ranking Universal production exec in the 1990s, and then back to a producer with his Joseph M Singer Entertainment housed there. One source says Blue Anchor is bringing in $425M to Sony, but others say it’s less. No matter. “Sony is thrilled, actually relieved, that the deal is happening. They hope this, plus successful product, will begin to change the dialogue about the studio.”
(Nikki Finke is currently on vacation.)
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