Sony Pictures Nears Co-Finance Deal With Village Roadshow

By Jen Yamato, Anita Busch

The supplementary financing deal between Village Roadshow Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment won’t trump Village Roadshow’s longtime co-financing partnership with Warner Bros., whose first-look deal most recently yielded the blockbuster $450M animated hit The Lego Movie.

Deadline previously reported that SonyEntertainment CEO Michael Lynton was looking for other co-financing partners and, in fact, are ready to go with former Warner Bros. president Jeff Robinov when his financing comes together and that will be a coup. Two of the films Robinov had the insight to shepard — 300: Rise of an Empire and The Lego Movie — together have already generated over $1B worldwide for WB this year. Sony already sealed a big $200M deal with Lone Star Capital and Citibank — half debt and half equity — which Deadline reported exclusively last month. It is a multi-year agreement to co-finance the majority of their films for the next several years.

The deal with Village Roadshow is imminent but will finance only a small percentage of a few pictures — not below 25% on each. A key deal point is that Sony will continue to keep most of its territories internationally as Village Roadshow operates in only a few territories, so the deal includes Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Village Roadshow have deep pockets to finance and the deal covers select films on a picture-by-picture basis, starting with an initial quartet of upcoming titles: Antoine Fuqua-helmed detective show adaptation The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Melissa Leo; the Quvenzhane Wallis-led Annie remake set to hit theaters this Christmas; Louis Leterrier-directed Grimsby starring Sacha Baron Cohen; and next year’s Goosebumps adaptation. Other pictures will come into the mix but there is no hard, multi-year agreement.

The Bruce Berman-led Village Roadshow will keep its home in Burbank at WB where it has been for 17 years. That has yielded such successful pics as Sherlock Holmes, Ocean’s Eleven, and Matrix films as well as recent releases like Baz Lurhmann’s The Great Gatsby and Akiva Goldsman’s Winter’s Tale. Upcoming Wachowskis pic Jupiter Ascending, Ron Howard’s In The Heart Of The Sea, and 2015’s Mad Max 4: Fury Road are also among the company’s titles with WB.

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