Studiocanal, ACE pact $200 mil deal

Deal pumps up investment muscle to $800 mil

Pan-European film group Studiocanal has inked a €150 million ($202.5 million) three-year slate financing deal with film financing fund Anton Capital Entertainment.

ACE will kick in 30% of Studiocanal’s total spending on English-language movies and films with international potential, raising the Euro major’s commitment to productions, co-financed pics and movies acquired for distribution to at least $675 million through 2014.

The ACE deal has already funded Studiocanal’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” It will also contribute coin to the Coen brothers’ “Inside Llewyn Davis,” set in the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene, and Michel Gondry’s French-lingo “The Foam of the Days,” an adaptation of Boris Vian’s novel.

It will continue to invest in local movies made in France, the U.K. and Germany, where it runs distribution-production operations, raising its total film financing capacity over the next three years to about $800 million, the largest of any film company in Europe, Studiocanal chairman-CEO Olivier Courson said.

Courson said the deal will increase Studiocanal’s investment capacity, offset risk and help it avoid taking on debt and searching for investment partners on a film-by-film basis.

Studiocanal will use the extra financing muscle to take more international rights on films it acquires for direct distribution in U.K., France and Germany, he added.

Though used widely by U.S. studios, this is the first time this kind of slate financing has been arrange in Europe, he added.

Headed by managing director Sebastien Raybaud, a former exec at French bank Societe Generale, and director Mark Field, ACE is a dedicated film financing fund set up to invest in Studiocanal movies.

Union Bank and Bank of America provide its senior financing while junior capital comes from Boston-based Falcon Investment Advisors and several large European investors.

Raybaud said the Studiocanal pact was unique. Slate deals normally involve around 40 movies but with this deal, risk would be spread over 100 films representing an average Studiocanal-ACE investment of around $6.75 million.

“That’s exceptional diversification,” Raybaud said.

Prints and advertising costs to bring out a movie are far lower in Europe than the U.S., he added.

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