Deal allows division to develop films using outside capital

HOLLYWOOD — Warner Independent Pictures has signed a two-year deal with Cherry Road Films, establishing a co-production and development fund covering eight to 10 projects a year.

Deal gives the fledgling specialty division an apparatus to develop films using outside capital. Cherry Road will provide development costs for its projects with Warners, based largely on books, plays or pre-existing screenplays, which could run into millions of dollars. Cherry Road also might co-finance production on some of those projects.

“Many of the pictures we will produce come to us with scripts in very good shape — requiring at most a pre-production rewrite,” said Warner Independent president Mark Gill. “This fund enables us to selectively develop projects that aren’t as far along, but that have tremendous potential to become great films.”

Cherry Road, which opened an L.A. office last year, is run by Bo Hyde, a former investment strategist and business manager for private equity and real estate, and his half-sister, Kendall Morgan, a producer who has worked as a reporter for PBS and A&E. Kathleen Haase, who produced “Detroit Rock City” for New Line, runs production.

The three will have producing roles on all of the projects at Warner.

Cherry Road has produced two films this year — the Ray Romano ensemble comedy, “Eulogy,” due from Artisan in March, and an untitled film directed by Andrew Gurland and produced with Doug Liman and David Bartis.

Cherry Road is already developing a slate of projects on its own, some of which could be set up at Warners in the future.

Warner Independent, which was unveiled in August, has a mandate to distribute up to 10 films a year with budgets less than $20 million.

“The deal affords Warner Independent the ability to develop at an early stage and incubate ideas and source material,” said Rick Hess, an agent at CAA, which reps Cherry Road. “It’s a great deal for Cherry Road to be in business with a new studio, and to help them jumpstart their development inventory.”

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