Bank closes deals on James Gray pic, 'White Elephant'

Substantiating its claim to be Europe’s leading lender to its film and TV industries, Paris bank Natixis Coficine has closed financing deals on three of the hottest tickets on the market: the untitled James Gray project, Pablo Trapero’s ”The White Elephant” and ”Only God Forgives,” Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow up to ”Drive.”

The drive into international is not coincidental. Key companies in Europe — such as Wild Bunch and Spain’s Morena Films — focus on diverse slates ranging in nationality and type, and sourced from all over the world.

Natixis Coficine has financed Wild Bunch films for over a decade, and also cashflows Morena projects.

In 2011, it lent 700 million ($917 million) to Europe’s film and TV industries. U.S. banks may not be so comfortable discounting European public money or other subsidies and tax breaks, which leaves market opportunities for Natixis, said Christophe Vidal, Natixis Coficine director.

The untitled James Gray project, starring Joaquin Phoenix, Marion Cotillard and Jeremy Renner, went into production in late January. It will shoot through late May.

Worldview Entertainment, a New York City-based motion picture production and investment company, is financing the equity.

Three Point Capital, a speciality finance company, provided a loan to the film against a New York State tax credit.

In a deal closed three weeks ago, Natixis Coficine has cash-flowed Wild Bunch’s substantial minimum guarantee for the world outside the U.S. and Canada.

”Ten years, maybe three years ago,” the Wild Bunch deal on the Gray pic would have been cash-flowed by a U.S. bank, Vidal said.”Our experience is being recognized. People based in Europe can now turn to us, instead of having to cross the Atlantic.”

Produced by Space Rocket Nation, a company Winding Refn set up in 2008 with producer Lene Borglum, crime thriller ”Only God Forgives,” with Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas, is currently shooting in Thailand.

Vidal describes the film as a European type of indie, financed, among others, by Danish pubcaster Danmarks Radio, the Danish Film Institute, Scanbox, which has taken Scandinavian distribution rights, Sweden regional film fund Film I Vast, and the Norwegian Film and TV Fund.

U.S. producer Bold Films, producer on ”Drive,” has also invested in the film.

Natixis Coficine put in place a production credit facility of $2.8 million, discounting the delivery payments from Wild Bunch/Gaumont and Scanbox. The loan discounts only part of the Wild Bunch/Gaumont financial contribution to the film.

”In money terms, this was not such a huge operation, but the film has a high profile, and we enjoy a great relationship with the producer Lene Borglum and the director, with whom we worked on ‘Valhalla Rising,’ ” Vidal said.

On ”White Elephant,” Spain’s Morena Films produces with France’s Full House and Argentina’s Disney-backed Patagonik and Matanza Cine, Trapero’s label. Wild Bunch sells worldwide. Natixis discounted part of Wild Bunch’s minimum guarantee and a subsidy from Spain’s Icaa Film Institute.

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