Cinergi’s library goes to Disney

NEW YORK — Cinergi Pictures Entertainment Inc.’s board Wednesday approved the first step in the indie’s winding down: the sale of its film library to Walt Disney Co, which will be announced today (Daily Variety, March 21).

Disney will buy the library — with the marked exception of “Die Hard With a Vengeance” — in exchange for cancellation of $38 million in production advances made by the Mouse House to the indie, sources said. At the same time, Disney’s distribution deal with Cinergi, which has 16 out of 25 pictures outstanding, will be canceled.

That will leave Cinergi with an interest in “Die Hard,” development projects and a special effects facility, all of which will be sold. While Cinergi chairman Andy Vajna is expected to buy the development projects, that is not certain, sources said.

Once the company has arranged the sale of these remaining assets, it will make an offer to Cinergi shareholders to buy their stock. Cinergi had $11 million in cash on its balance sheet as of Sept. 30, its last official accounting, although it is not known how much cash the company currently has.

How much Cinergi shareholders will get is hard to gauge, sources said, as it depends on the asset sales. Twentieth Century Fox, which owns half the copyright on “Die Hard” and has U.S. distribution rights on the picture, is expected to buy the rest of the film’s copyright. This asset is likely to be the most valuable.

Cinergi stock, which jumped to $1.53 10 days ago when Daily Variety reported the imminent Disney deal, had drifted back down over the past week and closed down 3¢ to $1.34 Wednesday. Neither Disney nor Cinergi would comment late Wednesday.

Final agreement on the winding down comes a year after Cinergi began a “strategic review” to explore its options, following disappointing performance of several of its releases over the previous two years and the rising costs of producing and marketing films.

In the past year Cinergi has talked with several possible buyers, such as Phoenix Pictures and New Regency Enterprises. None of these talks went anywhere, whereas Disney always had a strong interest in being involved in whatever happened.

Disney was the logical buyer of the film library, which has such titles as “Medicine Man,” “The Color of Night,” “The Scarlet Letter” and “Nixon,” all of which were distributed by the Mouse House domestically.

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