Former Picturehouse CEO looks for investors
While Bob Berney’s still looking for financing and pondering what to name his distribution company, he’s close to securing the DVD and pay TV component of the banner with Sony, and he has begun acquiring films.So far, the sole financier is River Road principal and producer Bill Pohlad who has committed some $30 million to the venture. Berney is looking for one or two more investors to sink comparable amounts, but it is unclear if that will happen in the rough economy or whether other partners will materialize when the venture is launched at Cannes next month. Also up in the air is whether Pohlad will give Berney the distribution rights to River Road’s plum title “Tree of Life,” directed by Terrence Malick and starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn. Aside from Jane Campion’s “Bright Star” (in competition at Cannes), Berney’s initial slate will include Oz pic “The Square,” by brothers Nash and Joel Edgerton, and “The Red Riding Trilogy.” Latter is a series of crime films based on the “Red Riding Quartet” crime novels by David Peace. The pics, which have aired on TV in the U.K., are self-contained dramas but contain plot threads that join them together. If the films catch on theatrically, it’s possible the fourth book could be adapted. There is excitement on the indie scene regarding the re-emergence of Berney, the brains behind the releases of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” “The Passion of the Christ,” “Monster” and “Y tu mama tambien.” He’s operated under the radar since Warner Bros. shuttered Picturehouse, of which he was topper, and rebuffed his request to spearhead the release of “Slumdog Millionaire,” which Fox Searchlight steered into a sleeper hit.