Samaha, entrepreneur and producer of movies including The Whole Nine Yards, Battlefield Earth and The Pledge, is joining forces with fellow industry vets Daniel Diamond and Geno Taylor at Luminosity, which will look to finance, produce and distribute movies in the U.S., as well as handle international sales.
The company tells us it plans to develop and produce 15 films over the next two years, with budgets up to $50M per title. Genres will include action, thriller, urban, faith-based, comedy, family, fantasy and sci-fi with an eye toward diversity and global appeal.
Financing for the company includes investments by Samaha, Steven Markoff, Sherwin Jarol and Dr. David Wood. The Board of Advisors includes former Warner Bros Domestic Distribution President Dan Fellman, former William Morris Chairman Jim Wiatt and former Warner Bros General Counsel David Sagal.
Samaha currently owns The Bucharest Studios (formerly owned by Warner Bros) in Romania, which is one of Eastern Europe’s largest film and TV facilities.
The charismatic Lebanese-American built his reputation in Hollywood during the 1980s and ’90s first as the owner of dry-cleaning empire Celebrity Cleaners and then with his nightclub on Sunset Strip, the Roxbury. Parlaying the Hollywood friendships he formed through his clubs, Samaha snagged a distribution deal with Warner Bros in 1999. Among big-budget action pics to come out of the deal were John Travolta sci-fi Battlefield Earth, the Sylvester Stallone Get Carter remake and Wesley Snipes starrer The Art of War. It hasn’t all been plain-sailing for the Tinseltown maverick. In 2000, he was sued by Intertainment Pictures for overcharging on production costs.
Samaha’s most recent ventures include a portfolio of iconic Hollywood landmarks, including ownership in the TCL Chinese Theatre Hollywood, the Yamashiro restaurant, the Vogue and Fox Theatres in L.A. and the Liberty Theatre in New York.
Diamond’s producing credits include Mother’s Day starring Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston; Winchester with Helen Mirren; and Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, The Believer, with Ryan Gosling. He previously was President of International at QED and Morgan Creek.
Taylor, founder of distributor GVN Releasing, has worked on more than 300 films. His credits include Despite the Falling Snow, starring Rebecca Ferguson and Charles Dance; Beautifully Broken; Habana Blues; and Armed.
Also joining Luminosity will be Samaha’s producing partner Missy Valdez. Valdez’s credits include Exposed, starring Keanu Reeves and Ana de Armis; All About the Money, starring Eddie Griffin; and the upcoming Mexican Job, which is in pre-production.
Samaha and Valdez most recently produced coming-of-age pic Breaking Brooklyn, with Louis Gossett Jr., Vondie Curtis-Hall and Colin Critchley.
“It is a pleasure to be working with such accomplished industry leaders, who all share a passion for the film community. Our mission is to develop a broad range of theatrical films and support new creative voices,” Diamond said.
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