Weinstein Company launches Asian Film Fund


MUMBAI: The Weinstein Company (TWC), announced the launch of a $285 million fund that will fully finance the development, production, acquisition, marketing and distribution of a large slate of Asian themed films over the next six years.


Worldwide distribution for all films under the deal will be controlled by The Weinstein Company and will include DVD distribution in the United States under TWC’s agreement with Genius Products. The announcement was made by TWC co-chairmen Bob and Harvey Weinstein.


The fund will include a diverse mix of theatrical and direct-to-video titles, which will mostly be filmed in Asia and will explore the region’s unique culture and showcase the talents of leading Asian filmmakers. TWC anticipates producing or acquiring a total of 21 theatrical titles and 10 direct-to-video titles during the term for the fund.


The fund will be capitalized with senior debt financing, mezzanine financing and equity financing. A consortium of banks led and co-arranged by Comerica Bank will provide the senior debt financing. Continental Entertainment Capital and Israel Discount Bank of New York (IDB Bank(R)) are also participating in the senior debt facility. The mezzanine and equity financing will be provided by Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and PMA Capital Management on behalf of investment funds it manages, among others. TWC will also be an equity investor in the fund. The fund will finance 100 per cent of both production or acquisition costs and prints and advertising (P&A) costs.


Some of the titles that will be included in the fund include a live action version of Mulan, which depicts the epic journey of the Chinese legend Hua Mulan; The Seven Samurai, a contemporary remake of the 1956 Academy Awards nominated story about a poor village besieged by marauding bandits and defended by seven samurai; the action epic Shanghai about an American who returns to Japanese occupied Shanghai during the Second World War to discover his friend’s death and tries to unravel the mysteries behind it; an untitled Tony Jaa project; TWC’s recently announced deal with 24 producer Tony Krantz and Infernal Affairs co-director Andrew Lau for a trio of Hong Kong action films, to be shot in English; and Forbidden Kingdom, which marks the first-ever onscreen pairing of martial arts superstars Jackie Chan and Jet Li and is directed by Rob Minkoff. TWC is co-releasing Forbidden Kingdom with Lionsgate in the US, UK, Spain, France and Latin America.


The Weinstein Company, which already has an office in Hong Kong, plans to ramp up its Asian business and increase its profile in Asia.