Prod'n co. fueling an Apollo relaunch
TV production company Odeon Film has taken over Apollo Media, the film fund operator that financed pics including Peter Hyams’ “The Sound of Thunder,” Niki Caro’s “Whale Rider” and Mark Rydell’s upcoming “Even Money.”Acquired by Odeon subsid Entertainment Value Associates (EVA), company will be known as EvaApollo Media. Kai-Roger Grueneke, who co-founded EVA with Odeon and currently heads Munich film fund MBP, will manage EvaApollo Media along with Jorg Westerkamp, who led Apollo prior to the takeover. Move marks Odeon’s expansion from TV and film production into the management and marketing of film funds’ existing catalog. Following the government clampdown on tax haven film funds last year, funds have had to drastically alter their business strategies, such as investing in companies rather than individual film projects or simply depending on the revenue from existing film catalogs. Odeon’s Berlin-based parent company, film-fund operator GFP Medienfonds, has moved into both areas. Earlier this year GFP acquired Odeon from its former parent, pubcaster ARD’s Bavaria Film group, and through its new EVA holding, it’s moving into fund management. “A new era for film funds began at the end of 2005 with the end of their tax benefits,” said GFP topper David Groenewold. “Alone the revenue from operative business will determine the continuance or the end of business operations.” Indeed, Datty Ruth’s VCL Film+Medien distrib last week took over Equity Pictures, the private fund company that financed Richard Donner’s “16 Blocks” and Brian De Palma’s “The Black Dahlia.” VCL subsid Allied Film Management took an 85% stake in Equity, with the remainder incorporated into VCL via a capital increase of $1 million in new shares. VCL said the pricetag for Equity was in the “upper single digit millions of euros” and said the deal would be financed through a loan from a hedge fund. In 2004, VCL bailed out film fund Cinerenta by swapping a stake in its biz for a chunk of the fund’s catalog.
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