National Geographic preps 3D 'Worlds'  Feb 2011

Expos of the planet's unseen marvels directed by Louie Schwartzberg

National Geographic will turn its 3D lens to the world of the invisible, with giant-screen film "Hidden Worlds" up next for the nature production company."Hidden Worlds," a 3D expos of the planet's unseen marvels from director Louie Schwartzberg, will go through NatGeo's Cinema Ventures group with additional funding from Lockheed Martin Corporation and the National Science Foundation. Pic will use the newest technologies to uncover natural phenoms undetectable to the human eye."Nanotechnology brought to life in 3D brings the minuscule to a completely new scale," said NatGeo prexy David Beal.The announcement comes just after NatGeo's co-financing agreement with China's Tiger8 Media at this year's Sundance Film Festival.Tiger8, which will handle the film in all Asian markets, marks an important partnership for NatGeo given the recent 3D boon across that region, most notably in territories like China and South Korea.

-February 2, 2011

Fox Searchlight nabs 'Betty Anne Waters'

Studio acquires rights to biopic starring Hilary Swank 

Fox Searchlight has acquired North America and select international rights for Tony Goldwyn's Hilary Swank starrer "Betty Anne Waters" for release this fall. Biopic, from Omega Entertainment, also stars Sam Rockwell, Melissa Leo, Minnie Driver, Juliette Lewis and Peter Gallagher. Pamela Gray penned the script. Story is based on the true story of an unemployed single mother who saw her brother convicted for a murder/robbery in 1983 and sentenced to life in prison. Convinced of his innocence, she spent the next decade earning a law degree and eventually proved his innocence. "Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, backed by an extraordinary supporting cast, deliver powerhouse performances in Tony Goldwyn's emotionally resonant film," said Searchlight co-prexies Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley. Producers on "Betty Anne Waters" are Andrew Sugerman, Andrew S. Karsch and Goldwyn. Pact was announced by Searchlight co-prexies Stephen Gilula and Nancy Utley. Sugerman and CAA put together the financing on the film. Deal was brokered by Searchlight VP of worldwide acquisitions Tony Safford and VP of business affairs Megan O'Brien for Searchlight, and Markus Barmettler of Barmettler Entertainment Law for Omega, CAA on behalf of the filmmakers.

–February 3, 2010

$150 mil Tiger fund finances China films

First project to be directed by Mimi Leder 

China's Tiger 8 Media and Wuxi Jinyuan Industry Investment and Development Co. closed its Tiger Portfolio Film Fund (TPF), a revolving $150 million production fund that's primarily aimed at films to be made in China. The Chinese city of Wuxi invested $50 million in equity and a private Chinese investor contributed gap financing. The debt facility was arranged by Standard Chartered Bank Hong Kong. TPF's first pic is a project formerly known as "Mandrake." Pic, to be helmed by Mimi Leder and written by Kevin Bernhardt, will now be a more modern action-adventure that is no longer based on comicstrip character Mandrake the Magician. Thesps Hayden Christensen and Djimon Hounsou are in negotiations to board the untitled film, which will lense in the mountain area of Shangri-la and in studios in Beijing. Warner Bros. is in final negotiations for the domestic rights to the pic. Producers include Howard and Karen Baldwin and Ashok Amritraj. TPF is run by Justin Ackerman, Markus Barmettler and Sophie Xu. Omega Entertainment, headed by Peter Rogers and Tom Daniels, will handle TPF's foreign and domestic sales. Fund has a $300 million capacity for co-financing and could invest in some 16 films over five years. "It is the first time Chinese and other investors have joined forces on a motion picture fund of this magnitude," said Barmettler. Warner's distribution proxy Dan Feldman said he expects to "participate in TPF's and Omega's significant flow of upcoming productions." TPF will open offices in China and Los Angeles and is also involved with the development of a studio facility in the heart of Wuxi. The studios are part of China's clear air initiatives to bring movie production and other industries to the Yangtze Triangle Region.

-May 18, 2009