Blumhouse Partners With Tang Media On Chinese Horror/Thriller Pics

Read on: Deadline.

Jason Blum’s Blumhouse Productions and China’s Tang Media Partners have set an agreement to co-develop and co-finance a series of Chinese-language horror/thriller features beginning with American Nightmare, an LA-based project. The films wi…

Jim Meenaghan Named Co-Head of UTA Independent Film Group

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

United Talent Agency has named Jim Meenaghan the co-head of its independent film group.

The executive joins longtime group leader Rena Ronson in the department, a packaging and finance machine that reports to the agency’s David Kramer.

“The partnership of Jim and Rena will be a powerful combination for our clients working in the independent market,” Kramer said in a statement.

Meenaghan comes over from the motion picture business affairs group, which he’ll still oversee. In his new role, he’ll advise on content financing structures and distribution deals.

Also Read: Cannes Film Market ‘Healthy’ as New Players Fill Streaming Giant Void

He’ll also work with Asian markets and is tasked with expanding UTA’s footprint in independent animation (a big seller in international markets of late, like the Michael Jackson chimp stop-motion film “Bubbles,” which sold for $20 million at Cannes two years ago). The group is also a key player on the festival and awards circuit.

“I’m really happy to take on this new role and work closely with Rena and the fantastic team she has built to further expand the focus of the Independent Film Group,” Meenaghan said.

Meenaghan worked with Tang Media Partners on the formation of Global Road Studios, more recently with Australian production company Grace, and with animation studio 3QU Media. Prior to UTA, he served as head of motion picture business affairs for independent studios Walden Media and Icon Films. He started his career at Walt Disney.

During her tenure as head of UTA Independent Film Ronson has doubled the size of the department. Recent high-profile independently financed films, productions and co-productions from UTA include: “The Big Sick,” “I, Tonya,” “I Feel Pretty,” “Lady Bird,” “Hidden Figures,” “Call Me by Your Name,” and “Room.”

Last year, six films the UTA packaged earned 12 Academy Awards and three wins — including Bryan Fogel’s documentary “Icarus.”

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How AGC Studios Founder Stuart Ford Used His IM Global Exit To Build A Better Model — Deadline Disruptors

Read on: Deadline.

Long a charismatic wheeler-dealer on the Croisette as IM Global’s principal, Stuart Ford returns to Cannes with a new company and a different mindset on how to best use the shifting landscape.

Ford didn’t plan to build AGC Studios until he left IM Glo…

Quietly And Carefully, Chinese Mega-Corporation Tencent Holdings Sets Sights On Hollywood — Deadline Disruptors

Read on: Deadline.

Tencent Holdings, based in Shenzhen, China, is Asia’s most valuable corporation, and the world’s biggest and most valuable gaming and social media company. In 2017 it reported a net income of $11.5 billion off revenues of $38 billion, and more than two…

Global Road, Lorenzo di Bonaventura to Team Up on US-Chinese Co-Production With Tang Media

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Global Road Entertainment will team up with filmmaker Lorenzo di Bonaventura to produce “The Last Masters,” its inaugural U.S.-Chinese co-production with parent company Tang Media Partners, it was announced Monday.

Alex Tse, best known for writing Zack Snyder’s adaptation of “Watchmen,” will write the martial arts action thriller, which will be filmed in China among other global locations. Lynn Harris, Global Road Entertainment’s president of worldwide production, will oversee the project on behalf of the companies.

“I have known and worked with Lorenzo for many years and not only is he one of the best producers in our industry, he also has a passion for making great films with top tier talent,” said Rob Friedman, chairman and CEO of Global Road Entertainment. “Working with him on our first Chinese co-production is a great way to jumpstart this part of our business and is the start of what we hope are many collaborations to come.”

Also Read: China Box Office Sets New Global Record on Chinese New Year – With No Hollywood Movies

Di Bonaventura added, “Alex and I are excited to be collaborating with Rob and his team at Global Road. I love this type of movie, it brings together a sense of tradition, high voltage action, emotional challenges for its characters and speaks to a worldwide audience.”

“The Last Masters” will follow three generations of martial arts fighters who must come together to defeat an international operation that unites legit pharma with powerful drug kingpins.

Also Read: Global Road’s Head of Publicity Liz Biber to Exit

Di Bonaventura’s production company, which is based at Paramount Pictures, has produced over 30 films including the “Transformers” series, Angelina Jolie’s “Salt,” “GI Joe,” “Deepwater Horizon” and “American Assassin.” Prior to starting his own production company, di Bonaventura was involved in over 130 productions at Warner Bros., including “Training Day,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

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Tang Media Teams With Tencent To Acquire Hollywood Movies For China

Read on: Deadline.

Today in Hong Kong, Global Road Entertainment parent Tang Media Partners unveiled a series of steps it’s taking as it looks to capitalize on China’s rapid growth, and as it promoted a so-called “dual-core” strategy.
Among notable moves, and along with its partners and backers China Everbright and Tencent, TMP has formed and funded a consortium to acquire Hollywood and other movies for distribution within the Middle Kingdom. The parties anticipate 10-20 pictures per year…

Global Road, Lorenzo Di Bonaventura Team For ‘The Last Masters’ U.S.-China Thriller

Read on: Deadline.

In its first U.S.-China co-production with parent company Tang Media Partners, Global Road Entertainment has greenlit The Last Masters. A martial arts action thriller, it will be produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and written by Alex Tse. The film will shoot in China among other worldwide locations, and be overseen by Global Road President of Worldwide Production, Lynn Harris.
The story follows three generations of martial arts fighters who must come together to vanquish…

Tang Media Pacts With Tencent to Buy Hollywood Movies For China

Read on: Variety.

Donald Tang’s Tang Media Partners has struck a pact with China Everbright and Tencent Films to acquire Hollywood movies for release in China. The deal foresees the acquisition of 10-20 titles per year. The deal is part of a raft of growth initiatives that TMP announced Monday. In a related move, TMP has agreed to […]

Tang Media Partners Taps Moelis & Co., Morgan Stanley Asia To Raise An Additional $200M In Equity Capital

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: Tang Media Partners Entertainment which recently formed the umbrella company Global Road Entertainment to oversee its acquisitions of Open Road Films, IM Global and IM Global Television, has just hired investment bankers Moelis & Co. and Morgan Stanley Asia to raise what sources said is an additional $200M in equity capital.
According to sources, both Moelis & Co.’s offices in Los Angeles and in Asia are working on the effort. The equity capital would be used…

Global Road Boards Documentary Recounting Plan to Avenge the Holocaust

Read on: Variety.

Global Road Entertainment has boarded Holocaust documentary “Avenging Evil,” part of the recently rebranded company’s push into television, particularly unscripted projects. Co-produced with London-based Caravan, the hourlong documentary tells the little-known tale of a group of Holocaust survivors who vowed to kill 6 million Germans after the war in retribution for the 6 million Jews […]

Open Road CEO Tom Ortenberg to Exit Company

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Tom Ortenberg is exiting Open Road Films, the company where he served as founding CEO, an individual with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

Ortenberg will remain in his post until the end of the year to help with the transition in management.

Open Road’s upcoming slate includes Johnny Depp’s “Labyrinth,” Bella Thorne and Patrick Schwarzenegger’s “Midnight Sun,” and Raja Gosnall’s “Show Dogs.”

Also Read: Open Road Films Closes Sale to Tang Media Partners

Tang Media Partners Entertainment, the arm of former Bear Stearns exec Donald Tang’s media conglomerate that includes production and distribution companies IM Global and Open Road Films, rebranded as Global Road Entertainment earlier this week, and named Rob Friedman as its chairman and CEO.

“I could not be more proud of the company that I built along with our partners at AMC and Regal and the outstanding team that has led Open Road to some truly remarkable accomplishments,” Ortenberg said in a statement. “As I depart, I know that the company is in great hands with Rob Friedman and I am certain that the future will be bright for him and the entire organization.”

“Tom has been an essential part of Open Road’s growth and success over the years,” added Friedman. “His leadership and legacy has created a foundation that will allow Global Road to evolve into a preeminent global content studio. We are appreciative of all of his efforts and his support as he transitions out of the company.”

Also Read: Tang Media Partners Entertainment Changes Name to Global Road Entertainment

Open Road Films was co-founded by AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment in 2011.

Ortenberg led the indie production company through various hit films, including the 2015 Oscar winner”Spotlight” as well as “The Nut Job,” “Nightcrawler,” “Mother’s Day” and “The Grey.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Zendaya’s ‘Duck Duck Goose’ Acquired by Open Road Films

Open Road Owners AMC, Regal Explore Sale After Reporting $100 Million in Losses

Open Road Names Loren Schwartz President of Marketing as Jonathan Helfgot Exits

IM Global, Open Road Owner Tang Media Rebrands as Global Road Entertainment

Read on: Variety.

China’s Tang Media Partners — which owns IM Global and Open Road Films — is rebranding as Global Road Entertainment. The company, which made the announcement on Monday, said the rebrand is a key step in moving toward becoming the next preeminent global content studio and follows the recent arrival of Rob Friedman at the […]

Tang Media Partners Changes Name To Global Road Entertainment To Reflect Acquisitions

Read on: Deadline.

Tang Media Partners Entertainment has changed its name to Global Road Entertainment, rebranding itself to reflect a number of acquisitions it made during the past year with Open Road Films, IM Global and IM Global Television as well as encompassing the company’s related third-party sales activities.
Tang hired longtime studio exec Rob Friedman in August to oversee all the properties as chairman and CEO of the newly combined entity. Under Friedman, the various divisions…

Toronto Film Market: Indie Distributors Struggle as Netflix, Amazon Look to Dominate (Again)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Hollywood begins jetting to Toronto this week for glittery premieres and awards-season jockeying — but the indie film market is under siege with fewer traditional players and the ongoing threat of deep-pocketed streaming giants.

This year’s TIFF sees theatrical release companies pivoting from conventional acquisitions (STXfilms), recovering from Sundance failures (Fox Searchlight) or outright disappearing (Broad Green Pictures).

“Audiences are smart, they have content being thrown at them in every direction,” one distribution executive told TheWrap, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It’s great news for filmmakers, but it’s bad news if you have both a bad movie and bad marketing. A lot of folks are mad and distressed because we can’t fool the customer anymore.”

Also Read: ‘Mudbound’ Trailer: Netflix Enters Oscars Race With Southern Racial Drama

The writing has been on the wall for the independent film economy since 2015, when Netflix showed up at Sundance and started buying completed features to upload for its subscribers. Amazon followed a year later with the theater owners in their pocket, promising full theatrical runs to sweeten the pot before they’d let Amazon Prime Video users watch at will.

The two companies spent big in Sundance this year, with Netflix acquiring titles like Dee Rees’ “Mudbound” ($12.5 million), Marti Noxon’s “To the Bone” ($8 million) and the Toni Collette-Molly Shannon comedy “Fun Mom Dinner” ($5 million).

Amazon, meanwhile, swooped up titles such as “The Big Sick” for $12 million — a success story as it approaches $50 million at the domestic box office — as well as the four-hour Grateful Dead documentary “Long Strange Trip” ($6 million) and Jenny Slate’s ’90s comedy “Landline” (mid-seven figures).

That’s raised the overall price of films on the market — and not all of those bets have paid off.

In fact, some of the fallout has been severe: Broad Green Pictures, run by hedge-fund brothers Gabriel and Daniel Hammond, pulled the plug on their 3-year-old production operation in August. Their plan to partner with the likes of enigmatic filmmaker Terrence Malick for festival titles (“Knight of Cups” and “Song to Song”) then to expand to tentpole films after little more than a year in existence proved to be too ambitious.

Open Road Films, which enjoyed a lengthy victory lap for its 2016 Best Picture winner “Spotlight,” just sold to Tang Media Partners after its joint owners AMC Theatres and Regal Entertainment posted a combined $98 million in losses.

Also Read: TheGrill 2017 Welcomes Paramount’s Megan Colligan, Lionsgate’s Sandra Stern and Beatriz Acevedo of Mitu

“It’s not as devastating as it sounds — those companies pop up every couple of years and drive up film prices,” a top indie sales executive said of the company. “But it‘s not healthy for our business at the end of the day, it‘s diminishing.”

Change is also afoot at STXfilms, where Bob Simmonds’ would-be mini-major will premiere Aaron Sorkin’s directorial debut “Molly’s Game” in Toronto — a title acquired at the script stage in Cannes two years ago. These days, STX seems to be banking on movie stars and mid-budget fare like Melissa McCarthy’s dark puppet comedy “The Happytime Murders” and Amy Schumer’s “I Feel Pretty.”

Other indie perennials have a lot more on the line: The Weinstein Company has a pricey Oscar campaign to launch for the Thomas Edison vs. George Westinghouse drama “The Current War,” and made such a fumbling mess of recent releases like Alicia Vikander’s “Tulip Fever” that The Atlantic even covered it. 

Focus Features will likely have an eye out for potential acquisitions, but the Universal shingle has its own ambitious slate slate of original movies to release. That includes awards hopefuls like “Victoria & Abdul” with Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis’ final acting performance this Christmas in an untitled Paul Thomas Anderson film.

Sony Pictures Classics remains a market stalwart, and could easily come away with titles in addition to its rollout for the awards-bait Armie Hammer drama “Call Me By Your Name.”

Also Read: ‘Patti Cake$’ Disappoints While ‘Wind River’ Opens Solid at Indie Box Office

There also may be trepidation for a company like Fox Searchlight, which paid a steep $10 million in Sundance for “Patti Cake$” to stave off streaming competiors — only to see the feel-good hip hop romp about a white teenaged girl in New Jersey who wants a rap career gross just $597,000 in limited release.

“What’s interesting is that there was an audience for ‘Patti Cake$,’ but it was young and urban,” one sales agent said. “There wasn’t even a social media presence for that project. Think of what would that film have done in the hands of Neon or A24?”

Indeed, 5-year-old upstart A24 trotted out “Moonlight” at TIFF last year and it (eventually) won the Best Picture Oscar. The company has a minimal, too-cool-for-school vibe in both its taste and the way it connects to audiences. For the sleepy but well-liked Sundance drama, Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara’s “A Ghost Story,” A24 marketers opened up pop-up boutiques to sell the bed sheets Affleck’s character wore in character as a ghost.

Tim League and Tom Quinn’s Neon, which released its first film last spring, has a similarly sexy brand that keeps sellers believing that streaming is not the Goliath to the limited theatrical David.

Still, both old and new companies in the indie world face challenges pitted against Netflix and Amazon — and their willingness to spend big even without the promise of a payoff at the theatrical box office.

Streaming platforms also offer producers protection against financial loss  — Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos definitively told TheWrap earlier this year that “no one has ever lost money” making a movie with him.

But the streaming giant’s model for features often fails to catch — or hold — public attention. Take this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” a quiet crime drama that won raves for star Melanie Lynskey and first-time director Macon Blair. Netflix released the film less than a month after Sundance — and it promptly disappeared from consciousness.

Also Read: Oscar Season Hits Toronto: 25 TIFF Movies With a Lot to Prove

Consumers are trained to follow the linear cycle of theatrical release, including plenty of runway for promotion (yes, even for indies, especially those with big names attached).

“One of the things I think is going to have to happen for those folks to compete is they will need to play to their unique strengths: a theatrical first focus, unique distribution and marketing capabilities and strong talent relationships,” said Matt Thompson, a partner at law firm Sidley Austin who represents indie distributors like Neon.

“They’ve got to get in early with whoever the producer, director, rights holder is on the film, if at all possible before it gets seen by others,” Thompson added.

A veteran distribution exec agreed. “We have to brand our service, make a consumer-facing product and use social media to stay alive,” the exec said. “And the movies have to be better than they use to be.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘Dolores’ and ‘Viceroy’s House’ Lead Indie Box Office While ‘Tulip Fever’ Disappoints

Coming-of-Age Drama ‘Beach Rats’ Shines at Indie Box Office

Indie Movie ‘Beach Rats’ Has a #BuryYourGays Problem – But It’s Not Backing Down

Open Road Films Closes Sale to China’s Tang Media Partners

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

China-based Tang Media Partners has acquired Oscar-winning independent film distributor Open Road Films, best known for releasing the art-house hits “Spotlight” and “Nightcrawler” despite posting nearly $100 million in losses.

As part of the deal, announced Monday, Open Road’s Tom Ortenberg will continue as the motion picture company’s CEO.

Tang Media — a Chinese conglomerate founded by in 2015 by Donald Tang, a former chairman and CEO of Bear Stearns Asia — bought Open Road from AMC Entertainment Inc. and Regal Entertainment Group as part of a larger, overall $500 million expansion plan.

The two exhibition companies launched Open Road in 2011 with the goal to release filmmaker-focused and prestige titles throughout the year. Its biggest success was 2016’s “Spotlight,” which earned nearly $45 million in the U.S. and won the Best Picture Oscar.

Also Read: Open Road Owners AMC, Regal Explore Sale After Reporting $100 Million in Losses

Earlier this year, both AMC and Regal indicated that they were exploring a sale after valuing their losses in the joint venture at more than $49.1 million each in financial statements — a total of $98 million.

The sale comes a week after fellow indie distributor, Broad Green Pictures, laid off 20 percent of its staff and shuttered its production division after suffering a series of flops at the box office.

“Open Road is among the best independent theatrical distribution companies in the entertainment world, from its established infrastructure and dedicated leadership, to its solid track record for producing captivating stories,” Tang said in a statement. “Open Road’s addition to Tang Media Partners is a critical step in our strategy to enable our production team to collaborate with the most talented, visionary filmmakers in bringing targeted content to audiences everywhere.”

Also Read: Open Road Owners AMC, Regal Explore Sale After Reporting $100 Million in Losses

Upcoming Open Road releases include the animated family comedy “The Nut Job 2,” “Home Again,” starring Reese Witherspoon, and “Marshall,” which stars Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

“Our Open Road team is excited for this new milestone with TMP,” said Tom Ortenberg. “We have cultivated a strong reputation with filmmakers who seek theatrical releases outside of the major studio ecosystems. By joining TMP we’re able to offer these filmmakers studio capabilities that reach beyond established limits and international borders.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Zendaya’s ‘Duck Duck Goose’ Acquired by Open Road Films

Open Road Owners AMC, Regal Explore Sale After Reporting $100 Million in Losses

Open Road Names Loren Schwartz President of Marketing as Jonathan Helfgot Exits

Open Road Sets Release Date for Supreme Court Biopic ‘Marshall’

Tang Media Hires Blizzard Alum Gabriel VanHuss as VP of Franchise Management

Read on: Variety.

Tang Media Partners, a global content financing and production company focused on forging ties between China and Hollywood, has hired Gabriel VanHuss as VP of franchise management in its content-development division. VanHuss previously spent eight years at Activision Blizzard’s Blizzard Entertainment game label in various roles, including franchise programming manager where he developed extensions to… Read more »