Cannes-Bound FilmNation Expands with $50 Million Bank Infusion

Festivals
by Anne Thompson
May 7, 2013 2:52 PM
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FilmNation's Glen Basner
Heading into the Cannes Film Festival market this May is FilmNation Entertainment, led by respected CEO Glen Basner.  In just five years, the ex-Weinstein Co. exec has built FilmNation into a leading film sales and production company, and just raised a $50 million capital fusion with an equity-backed, revolving multi-bank credit facility with Bank Of America Merrill Lynch and Union Bank. The company has offices in New York and L.A. with about 28 employees.

The arrangement was made possible due to FilmNation’s strong track record and banking relationships. Basner will use the money to increase his financing on more films. The revolving credit will also allow president of production Aaron Ryder and his team the ability to finance, produce and acquire more higher-budget films for the company’s slate. FilmNation can board a project as a producer, financier, sales agent, international distributor or marketer, and at any stage in a film’s lifespan including development. "Financing is interesting to us because it often drives higher fees," Basner told me at Cannes last year. "But otherwise our approach is the same, we don't look at a film differently whether we're financing it or we're selling it for a third party. We sell our films very specifically. They have to make sense creatively and commercially, and if they do we figure out our role on that movie."

FilmNation productions include Brad Parker's "Chernobyl Diaries," John Cusack's "The Raven," and horror flick "House on the End of the Street," the current release from Jeff Nichols, "Mud," a 2012 Cannes competition selection, starring Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Michael Shannon and Reese Witherspoon (which FilmNation produced and sold internationally with Everest as producing partner and financier), and Dan Beers’ upcoming teen sex comedy "Premature."

FilmNation's rise underscores the growing role of these companies as studios scale back their slates and focus on tentpoles. In effect, the independently funded features backed by foreign sales producers like FilmNation and French company Wild Bunch are filling a void in the marketplace for mid-size budgeted films. The downside is that not all foreign-driven movies are well-made or considered, as foreign distributors can be rigid and narrow-minded about which stars drive box office.

Going into Cannes, FilmNation has acquired most worldwide rights to David Michôd’s "The Rover," starring Guy Pearce and Rob Pattinson, the Australian director's follow-up to "Animal Kingdom," which introduced Joel Edgerton, Jackie Weaver and Ben Mendelsohn to world audiences. FilmNation is also co-financing Nic Mathieu’s "Story of Your Life," with David Linde's Lava Bear Films (the two companies worked together on Zhang Yimou's "The Flowers of War").

FilmNation will premiere three films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival including JC Chandor’s follow-up to "Margin Call," "All is Lost," starring Robert Redford, Sofia Coppola’s "The Bling Ring," starring Emma Watson, and Alexander Payne’s "Nebraska," starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte.

"Bling Ring" is "going to be a very different film than people are used to from Sophia," says Basner. "It plays much more energetic and fun and lively on screen than 'Somewhere,' which is more meditative, or 'Lost in Translation.'"

The upcoming sales line-up also includes Jonathan Glazer’s "Under the Skin" with Scarlett Johansson; Terrence Malick’s "Knight of Cups" and an untitled project; Anton Corbijn’s "A Most Wanted Man," starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Rachel McAdams; "Genius" starring Colin Firth and Michael Fassbender; and the untitled Marc Lawrence romantic comedy starring Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei, among others.

Last year at Cannes the company enjoyed strong sales for John Hillcoat's Cannes entry "Lawless," Steven Soderbergh's "Side Effects" (following "Magic Mike"), "Tracers," Temple Hill's Taylor Lautner actioner "Tracers," "Midnight's Children" directed by Deepa Mehta based on Salman Rushdie's novel, and Pedro Amodovar's comedy "Amantes Pasajeros.”

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More: Cannes Film Festival, The Bling Ring

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