'50 Cent' to topline first in 10-film slate
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Randall Emmett’s Cheetah Vision and George Furla’s Hedge Fund Film Partners are teaming on a 10-picture deal that’s backed by a $200 million fund. Grindstone Entertainment/Lionsgate will release the films.Healthcare magnate Richard Jackson, real estate developer Gary Sakwa and Daniel Ret will provide the equity. Remainder of the fund will be made up of debt and tax credits. First film under the deal is the Curtis Jackson-toplined “Set Up,” written and directed by Mike Gunther. Paul Walker is in talks to star opposite Jackson in the heist actioner, which begins shooting next month and is budgeted at $20 million. “Set Up” revolves around a group of friends who are catapulted into the middle of a diamond heist turned deadly. Casting is under way for the other roles. Hannibal Pictures is handling international sales. Jackson’s previous acting credits include “Righteous Kill,” which cumed $40.1 million at the domestic B.O., and “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” which cumed $31 million. The $200 million fund expands the existing relationship between Curtis Jackson and Emmett, who last year launched Cheetah Vision. Richard Jackson financed the first film from the banner, “Gun.” Curtis Jackson and Richard Jackson also teamed with Emmett and Furla — who have a separate banner, Emmett/Furla Films — to produce actioner “Catch .44,” starring Malin Ackerman, Bruce Willis and Forest Whitaker. They produced “Catch .44″ in association with Megan Ellison. “The thing about ’50 Cent’ is that, just like in his music career, he isn’t someone who sits around and waits for things to get done. He came to me and said, ‘How do we move quicker on projects?’ With this new fund, we are able to do that,” Emmett said. Fund will finance four to five pictures a year, with moderately priced budgets in the $20 million range. Partners are hoping for the second film, which hasn’t been announced, to begin lensing in February. “It’s very hard to raise equity today and we are lucky to have such great partners, including the amazing team of Barry Brooker and Stan Wertlieb of Grindstone and Joe Drake and Helen Kim at Lionsgate,” Emmett said. City National Bank will handle banking, while ITS Capital will handle tax credits. Grindstone is owned by Lionsgate. Richard Jackson owns Jackson Healthcare, while Sakwa owns the largest real estate firm in Michigan. Emmett/Furla Films have produced dozens of films, including “Righteous Kill,” “16 Blocks” and “Street Kings.” Cheetah Vision has named Brandon Grimes to handle productions coming out of the new fund.Jackson and Cheetah Vision are repped by CAA and Violator.