New venture to finance three pics or more per year

Former Arthaus Pictures head Brian Oliver has partnered with private equity film fund Cross Creek Partners to form Cross Creek Pictures, a venture that will provide the equity financing for upward of three pics per year.

Oliver has partnered with Cross Creek Pictures principals the Thompson family, private business investors from Louisiana.

The first project, “Delivering Gen,” goes into production in January and marks the feature directorial debut of Kurt Sutter, creator and exec producer of the FX series “Sons of Anarchy.” Sutter wrote the script.

In the drama, a Parisian mob enforcer moves to New York to escape his criminal life and raise an infant daughter with her mother, but his past catches up to him and endangers the baby.

Oliver, who will produce “Delivering Gen” with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, said Cross Creek has committed $40 million in private equity that covers three years, provided by five high-net-worth individuals.

Oliver said the $13 million-budgeted “Delivering Gen” will be followed by two other 2010 production starts: the $6 million comedy “Bathing Suits,” with screenplay by “The Graduate” scribes Buck Henry and Charles Webb, and the $18 million “The Hellfire Club,” a Jeffrey Hatcher-scripted comedy in which Benjamin Franklin gets caught up in a notorious social club in 18th century London.

All those scripts emerge from development hell because of the equity financing.

“Delivering Gen” was Sutter’s first script, one that nearly came together several times with various actors and directors. Sutter built his writing resume with episodes of “The Shield” and numerous feature scripts; as for helming, he has directed theater and the season finale of “The Sons of Anarchy.”

“Bathing Suits” and “The Hellfire Club” have driven through similarly long and rocky roads.

“In the independent space, deals are so transient, and there are so many moving parts that you never really know you have a movie until you close the bank loan,” Oliver said. “The hard money, that 30%-40% of equity financing, is the most difficult, and now we have a fund that will stand behind the pictures.”

Oliver said the equity will be offset with location incentives and territorial sales to round out production budgets. The Cross Creek investors are looking to build intellectual property value by owning its pictures, Oliver said.

Sutter will wrap the film and return for season three of his FX series, whose second season begins Sept. 8.

“This is a crime thriller that’s really a love story, about two really damaged people who have a warped sense of family, like Sid and Nancy have a baby,” Sutter said.

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