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Gaylord, WB pact for films

Film deal set for domestic, int'l distribution

Gaylord Films, the recently launched pic unit of Tennessee-based Gaylord Entertainment, has entered into a co-financing, production and distribution deal with Warner Bros.

Warners will handle domestic and worldwide distribution on the features Gaylord produces.

Established several months ago by Gaylord Entertainment chairman E.K. Gaylord II, Gaylord Films is headed by vet producer Hunt Lowry (“A Time to Kill”), who ended his first-look deal at the Walt Disney Co. to undertake the new endeavor.

Gaylord Films’ four-year deal with Warner Bros. could result in up to 10 pics. Gaylord comes with its own discretionary development fund via its parent company.

Fifteen years ago, Gaylord made forays into film and television with a division headed by the late Alan Courtney and Elmo Williams. The shingle produced television movies and one feature. But several years later, Gaylord shuttered its doors. However, Gaylord is optimistic that the time is right for a new film venture.

Paris-based Pandora Films, a specialty division of Gaylord Films, will also look to co-produce and finance certain projects through Warners. Pandora’s “Donnie Darko,” written and helmed by Richard Kelly and co-produced by Flower Films, recently wrapped principal photography.

“We are overjoyed at this exciting new relationship between Gaylord Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures,” Gaylord said. “The prospect of making movies with exceptional people like Alan Horn and Lorenzo di Bonaventura is thrilling.”

“Gaylord and I have been planning this venture for a long time,” Lowry added. “We can’t think of a more exciting way for it to be realized than through this relationship between Gaylord Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures.”

“Gaylord is already a first-rate entertainment company,” said Horn, prexy and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. Pictures. “We are looking forward to adding Gaylord Film features to the Warner Bros. Pictures slate and to working with Hunt, E.K. and the other talented people at Gaylord as they grow this new enterprise into a major independent feature film company.”

Lowry, whose producing credits include “Disney’s The Kid,” “Instinct,” “First Knight” and “The Last of the Mohicans,” will run Gaylord Films with execs Casey La Scala and Stacy Cohen, both of whom have been with him at Disney during the past four years.

Lowry’s credits extend to television: He was an executive producer of HBO’s “Baja Oklahoma” and “Rascals and Robbers: The Secret Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn” for CBS. He produced the CBS miniseries “Dream West” and the telefilms “His Mistress,” “Wild Horses” and the ABC presentation “Surviving.”

Gaylord shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Its properties include the long-running “Grand Ole Opry” radio show, hotels in Nashville, Florida and Texas, cable television networks, an event television division, a sports management arm and a music publishing and recording entity.

Gaylord Films’ deal with Warner Bros. was negotiated by Craig Jacobson of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman & Warren along with Endeavor.

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