Financiers Ron Burkle, Bob Yari, Marc Leder, Marvin Peart, Dan Schryer and East West Bank have partnered with CEO David Glasser and COO David Hutkin to launch of 101 Studios, a new global entertainment studio headquartered in Century City.
101 Studios has announced that it lined up more than $300 million to acquire, develop and produce four to six films a year in the United States, in addition to financing and producing six to eight new television series it has in development. The company has already set up an international sales division. The announcement was sent with an embargo for tomorrow morning, but a trade jumped that and so we are going with what we have.
101 Studios has closed on a $28.5 million television deal with Viacom for the first and second seasons of Yellowstone, the Taylor Sheridan modern-day western drama starring Kevin Costner. The program just wrapped on its second season. Yellowstone airs on Viacom’s Paramount cable network and was the second-highest rated drama program on cable in its first year. Glasser and his team will be at Sundance looking to make acquisitions at the festivals.
Glasser and Hutkin resurface for the first time since they exited The Weinstein Company. They ran the business for years for Harvey and Bob Weinstein until the company imploded under the disgrace of sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein. Glasser, the longtime COO, was part of an effort to avoid bankruptcy with a deal that was backed by Burkle, for a company that would have been spearheaded by Maria Contreras-Sweet, the former administrator of the Small Business Administration in the Obama Administration. Those talks were hobbled by a number of factors, including the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s filing of a civil rights lawsuit. Schneiderman would himself resign in disgrace after being exposed for bedroom misdeeds in a Ronan Farrow expose in The New Yorker, but the move hobbled a deal that would have avoided bankruptcy, and had measures to keep employees intact at TWC and provide funds for the alleged victims of Weinstein. Burkle and other investors exited that deal. The assets of TWC then plunged into Chapter 11 bankruptcy and were awarded to Lantern Capital, a stalking horse bidder and also a minority participant in the Burkle bid.
As for the new venture, Deadline hears that among the early projects 101 Studios will start its film slate with will be The Current War, a Benedict Cumberbatch-Michael Shannon-starrer that was made by TWC, with Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. An early version of that film played Toronto two years ago to mixed response because it was too long. The director completely re-cut it and did re-shoots that were funded by Lantern, which holds international distribution rights on the film. Martin Scorsese came in and assisted the director with that effort. The film explores the untold story about the spread of electricity in the 19th century and the rivalry between inventors George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison. 101 Studios is negotiating on that film with the hopes of an August release. Among other projects they are chasing are United States Vs Billie Holliday, which Lee Daniels will direct, and 101 has also made a bid for The War With Grandpa, the comedy that stars Robert De Niro and Uma Thurman. That comedy also originated at TWC but was bought back by Marvin Peart’s Marro Media.
Financial backing for 101 Studios is being provided by a group of investors including Ron Burkle, managing partner of The Yucaipa Companies; entrepreneur and Crash producer Bob Yari; Marc Leder, co-CEO of Sun Capital Partners, Inc.; Marvin Peart of Marro Media Co.; Dan Schryer, CEO of DCI Data Center Services; and East West Bank. Latter is providing substantial financing, including capital for the Yellowstone investment, the new company said.
Over the last decade, Glasser previously oversaw production, marketing and distribution for worldwide films, garnering a total of 195 Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations and 40 wins for titles including, but not limited to Inglourious Basterds, The King’s Speech, The Artist, Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, The Butler, and Lion. This includes Best Picture nominations seven years in a row and consecutive Best Picture wins for The King’s Speech (2011) and The Artist (2012).
Hutkin, who will be Chief Operating Officer of 101 Studios, previously served in the capacity of head of strategy, investments and banking and ultimately in the role of CFO since the end of 2010. Over that time, he put together four facilities totaling $650M in corporate revolvers under a syndicate of 16 banks with lead banks including Union Bank, Bank of America, East West Bank, UBS, CIT and Comerica. In addition, Hutkin structured over 30 individual Film and TV project deficit financing with banks, mezzanine partners and equity investors to develop and acquire content and strategic endeavors for another $500M. In his prior banking career across three banks, Hutkin structured approximately 175 film and television projects for independent producers and studios.
101 Studios will be making additional project and executive announcements in the coming weeks.