Shingle's creative path won't change under new owners
American Vantage, a media and investment firm based in Las Vegas, has acquired Doug Liman and Dave Bartis’ Hypnotic, which is part-owned by Universal.Under terms of the deal, U and other previous owners split $5 million in American Vantage stock warrants. Besides U — whom a spokesman described as a “passive, minority investor” in Hypnotic — those include Liman, Bartis and Dresdner Bank, among others. Hypnotic, a multimedia production and distribution company formed by helmer Liman and producer Bartis is based in L.A. and Gotham. Hypnotic has also enjoyed a non-exclusive film relationship with U and a TV development and production deal at Warner Bros. Television. Hypnotic is a producer on Fox’s hit sudser “The O.C.” with WBTV and McG’s Wonderland shingle. Company has also been active in the branded entertainment arena, including producing the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festivals and commericals for companies such as Reebok. “Doug and I have worked hard to get Hypnotic to the point at which we are now poised to grow to the next level,” said Bartis, who remains Hypnotic’s CEO. “This was a way to get access to financing that matched our strategic goals for growing the company,” he added. “We’ve always been focused on discovering new talent as well as developing traditional films and TV shows. (The deal) gives us a lot of flexibility and also preserves that model Doug and I are concerned about.” Liman’s credits include “The Bourne Identity,” “Swingers” and “Go.” Currently directing “Mr. And Mrs. Smith” starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for New Regency and producing “The Bourne Supremacy” for Universal, Liman will continue as vice chairman of Hypnotic. American Vantage Media is a subsid of American Vantage Cos. Originally focused on the gaming industry, the 20-year-old company last year acquired vidgame company YaYa with the intent of shifting its investing to entertainment and media properties. YaYa creates online games for specifically for brands including Kmart, Ford, Siemens, Burger King and Safeway, among other clients. “We structured this deal with partners, who like existing shareholders, believe in the underlying long-term value of ownership in American Vantage companies,” American Vantage chairman-CEO Ronald Tassinari said. “Hypnotic provides us with a unique combination of high-quality management and great intellectual property,” said American Vantage vice chairman Stephen Bannon, a former investment banker and more recently a strategic exec at The Firm. Bannon, in his capacity as a board member of American Vantage, headed the acquisition committee on the Hypnotic deal. Bartis, a former head of NBC Studios, said the new ownership won’t have much of a day-to-day impact on Hypnotic’s creative operations. “Creatively, it’ll be the same,” he said. “I’ll just be move available to focus on the creative and less worried about the operations.”
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