New financing will allow Village Roadshow to continue backing movies like… (Christopher Raphael / Warner…)
This post has been corrected. See below for details.
Village Roadshow Entertainment, the production and finance company behind such film franchises as "Sherlock Holmes"and "Happy Feet," has raised $380 million in new capital. The money will allow the production outfit to expand the number of movies it makes with longtime studio partner Warner Bros.as well as grow a new China-based venture.
The equity, which comes from investment firm Trinity Opportunities Limited and was arranged with Hong Kong's Shikumen Capital Management, will give Village Roadshow the ability to access more of a $1-billion debt facility that it set up last year. With those additional funds, the company plans to start co-financing between six and eight movies per year.
While it was making that many films in the mid-2000s, Village Roadshow's production pace has slowed in the last few years as its access to capital was limited by the global financial crisis.
Only two movies backed by Village Roadshow hit theaters in 2011 and four will be released by the end of this year.
The company, which has been in partnership with Warner since 1997, has been stung lately by several box-office disappointments. While last December's "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows" was a hit, November's animated sequel "Happy Feet Two" was a surprise flop and the recent "Dark Shadows," starring Johnny Depp, also lost money.
The new funding puts Village Roadshow on firmer footing as it prepares for this fall's release of "The Gangster Squad" and the Christmas movie "The Great Gatsby" and enables the company to work with Warner on more movies for 2013.
With its financing secured, Village Roadshow will also probably look to renew its partnership agreement with Warner, currently set to expire in 2014.
The company will also use the new money to help grow its new China-based unit, Village Roadshow Pictures Asia, which is launching with a slate of three films, including director Stephen Chow's "Journey to the West," scheduled for release next February. VRPA will also co-finance Keanu Reeves' directorial debut, "Man of Tai Chi," along with China Film Group and Wanda Media, slated for release next year as well.
[Corrected at 2:05 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said Village Roadshow's deal with Warner Bros. expires in 2013.]
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