Seven-pic pact with Lions Gate

Chaross Pictures, the insurance-backed film library formed by Peter Hoffman and Jay Firestone, has arranged North American distribution for seven of its pics via Lions Gate Films.

Chaross, a division of Firestone’s Canadian-based Fireworks Entertainment, was launched in January to create an instant library, principally by buying up independent pics that had defaulted on their bank loans.

Seven Arts Intl., the international sales division of Hoffman’s Paramount-based Seven Arts Pictures, is currently handling all sales of Chaross titles.

While most of the pics in the Lions Gate pact will go straight to video or television, at least two, “Lessons in the Tic Code” (aka “The Tic Code”), with Gregory Hines, and “The James Gang,” with John Hannah, will get a theatrical release, Hoffman said.

‘Vampires’ too

“Tic” was produced by the Shooting Gallery and several other companies, and “James” by the U.K.’s Handmade Films. Other pics in the Lions Gate deal include the Casper Van Dien starrer “Modern Vampires” (aka “Revenant”), “There’s No Fish Food in Heaven” and “Glam.”

According to Chaross, all its 20-odd pics now have some form of distribution in North America. The company said that it had concluded “numerous agreements” for their international distribution at February’s American Film Market.

“We are in the process of completing the licensing of all available rights on the pictures controlled by Chaross and collecting approximately $12 million in receivables,” Seven Arts Intl. prexy Daniel Diamond said.

Chaross acquired a significant number of the titles from Imperial Entertainment Group, after it had taken them over from various sales companies and producers. But Hoffman and Firestone, via ICE Media and Heath Group, arranged an insurance policy in London for the performance of the pics against the value of their future revenues. ICE Media’s Graham Bradstreet is risk managing the insurance deal, while Heath Group’s Roger Basset acted as broker.

Risk management

While he has partnered with Bradstreet in arranging a number of insurance deals, Hoffman said that he was not involved in the risk management of the Chaross policy.

Firestone said that speculation that the deal contained an unusual level of risk for the insurers was “unfounded.” He added that ICE and Heath had negotiated “substantial deductibles to benefit insurers.”

“We are confident that the less than $7 million of insurance, concerning revenues on more than 20 pictures, fully cross-collateralized, will perform to insurers expectations,” he said.

Chaross expects to acquire more pics through time, which Seven Arts Intl. will continue to distribute. Fireworks, which also has a 25% stake in Seven Arts Pictures, is a fully owned subsidiary of Canadian conglom Canwest.

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