By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 24, 2011 at 4:43AM
David Linde has finally closed his long-in-the-works film production and finance company backed by India's Reliance Entertainment, which also backs DreamWorks. Linde has lined up an all-important first-look distribution deal with his former studio, Universal, plus key foreign output deals. The new company has not yet cleared a name-- Linde has been calling it Lava Bear Films. Ex-CAA agent and MRC Film Group president Tory Metzger will be his production head, with ex-Universal digital strategist Adam Rymer as chief operating officer, overseeing financial operations and day-to-day business affairs. Linde plans to both produce and finance projects with a recognizable brand identity for the worldwide marketplace.
Reliance is providing the capital to finance Linde's firm, which is based on a global distribution structure that combines the assets of both a major studio and the flexibility of indie distribution overseas. Linde learned the benefits of both over his film industry career. He gets the constantly shifting lay of land as well as anyone out there.
Before Linde became co-chairman with Marc Shmuger of Universal Pictures, he ran Focus Features with James Schamus, with whom he had worked at New York indie production and foreign sales co. Good Machine. He also put in his time at the Weinsteins' Miramax Films, like many other executives in Hollywood. While he was setting up his new company, Linde executive-produced Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's Biutiful and Zhang Yimou’s The 13 Women of Nanjing as well as producing Fernando Mereilles’ 360.
“Our company is designed in response to a changing world," said Linde. "We have the opportunity to tap into the global industry’s desire for films while at the same time build a business that offers opportunities to our creative partners by harnessing both traditional means of distribution as well as new technologies, platforms and markets,” said Linde. “Reliance has already proven itself a great partner and we look forward to working with them as we enter this new world.”
Linde's deal with Universal gives the studio the first option to co-finance a developed project and distribute it in the United States and other international territories. Any films that Universal decides not to release domestically, Linde can set up with other motion picture companies. Beyond studio distribution territories, Reliance will handle distribution in India, and the new company has set up output partnerships with the following companies with whom Linde has close ties:
· Entertainment One (eOne) for Canada, the UK and Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg)
· Italia Films for the Middle East, Greece and Turkey
· Nordisk Film for the Nordic Countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland)
· Revolutionary Releasing for Eastern Europe (excluding Russia)
· Sun Distribution for Latin America
· Tele München Group (Germany, Austria along with certain rights in Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein)