Company's in fertile Village
Crescent Entertainment’s $115 million investment in Village Roadshow Pictures has been completed, three months after it was announced (Daily Variety, July 28).Through the deal, Crescent, a consortium formed by sitcom guru Norman Lear and his longtime business ally Hal Gaba and Michael Lambert, will acquire 50% of the main film and distribution companies that make up Village Roadshow, which has a long-term co-financing deal with Warner Bros. Along with plans to increase the number of films Village Roadshow produces and finances, Crescent and Village Roadshow will work together to pursue acquisition opportunities in film and other media. Crescent is a venture of Lear’s ACT III Entertainment and Lambert Entertainment, billing itself as an investment and management company focused on film, TV and other media assets. Crescent partners Gaba and Lambert will share the office of chairman of the Village Roadshow Pictures Group, along with Village Roadshow Ltd.’s Graham Burke. Village Roadshow Ltd., the parent company of Village Roadshow Pictures, is headquartered in Melbourne. Former Warner production prexy Bruce Berman, who has headed Los Angeles-based Village Roadshow Pictures Entertainment since 1998, will continue as chairman-CEO of that company. Village Roadshow’s production and distribution partnership with Warner has turned out a number of high-profile, profitable pics, including “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and the “Matrix” trilogy. Village Roadshow Pictures will use the $115 million to repay an intercompany loan of $100 million owed its parent company and to pay a $15 million dividend.