On the eve of the opening of their Keanu Reeves-starrer John Wick, PalmStar Media Capital and Thunder Road Pictures have made an overall financing deal that will give Basil Iwanyk’s production company more than $200 million in equity annually to fully finance and produce five to six star-driven films with budgets between $20 million and $50 million. PalmStar has the option to finance or co-finance the bigger-budget films. Iwanyk’s company will also have over $5 million in development capital to percolate projects in the deal he has closed with PalmStar Media CEO Kevin Frakes.
The first film under the new partnership being done with PalmStar and its partner Merced Capital is the Jackie Chan-starrer The Civilian, which Peter Segal is directing for a March production start. John Wick opens Friday. Although Iwanyk grew up in the studio system as a Warner Bros executive and then producer of big-scale films including Clash Of The Titans and The Town, he has become among the growing group of producers who, if they make commercial and global-appeal product, fare better making deals with outside companies that allow them to buy material without asking permission.
For instance, he just optioned screen rights to the Steven Pressfield hybrid history The Lion’s Gate: On The Front Lines Of The Six Day War, and will use the book as a template to tell the story of how Israel, faced with extinction as Jordan, Syria and Egypt prepared to attack, routed the enemy in less than a week in 1967 and ended up with three times the land than it had at the start of the battle. Upcoming films he produced include the Jeff Bridges-starrer Seventh Son, the Denis Villenueve-helmed Sicario and the Alex Proyas-helmed tentpole Gods Of Egypt.
Iwanyk previously has brokered deals that gave his company funding that left him with domestic and most foreign territories. The first such deal was made with London-based Cutting Edge Film Group, which gave music rights to five movies to that company in exchange for development funding. And there was another with Italia Films and China-based Fundamental Films that promised Italia distribution rights in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East, and Fundamental releasing rights in China in exchange for a high-seven-figure fund. Most recently, Thunder Road closed a partnership deal with Christian Angermayer’s Film House Germany that amounted to a mid-seven-figure deal over three years. The latter is still active.
Formed in 2010 by Frakes and venture capitalist Peggy Taylor, PalmStar Media Capital partnered with Minneapolis-based hedge fund Merced last month, and they staked more than $20M in financing for an initial slate of pictures that includes Every Secret Thing, the Amy Berg-directed film that will star Diane Lane and Elizabeth Banks; the Ryan Phillippe starrer Chained; and the Elizabeth Allen-directed Careful What You Wish For, which stars Isabel Lucas. Other films they are staked in include American Ultra and Term Life.
This is a much bigger commitment, with Thunder Road repped by CAA in the deal.
“Thunder Road has a long track record of success with both midsize indie films and larger studio tentpoles,” Iwanyk said in a statement. “This collaboration gives us tremendous flexibility in growing both sides of the business. We now have the resources to greenlight our independent movies, as well as having a development war chest that will allow us to compete for any big studio project.”
Said Frakes: “Basil is an enormously talented producer with fantastic ambitions. We’re excited to expand our relationship with Thunder Road, and believe they are perfectly positioned to compete and complement the studios with the sort of commercial fare Basil is so well versed at producing.”
Deal was negotiated by Thunder Road EVP Business Affairs Jonathan Fuhrman and by PalmStar’s attorney Jonathan Gardner of Cohen Gardner, LLP. Thunder Road also is repped by PJ Shapiro and Eric Sherman at Ziffren.