×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Court puts stamp on Bluth sale

Don Bluth’s Dublin-based animation studio is finally poised to rise from the ashes of bankruptcy, with new owners and filmmaker John Boorman as its chairman.

The Irish High Court yesterday gave the green light to the sale of Bluth’s three incompleted feature films to a joint venture backed by John Boorman’s Merlin Films and Hong Kong-based Media Assets (Daily Variety, Nov. 12).

Justice Frank Murphy refused a request by First National Film Corp. for another postponement, to give the U.S. company time to put together a rival bid.

Merlin/Media Assets will pay $ 14 million upfront, plus another $ 5 million if the films are successful. They will also invest $ 6 million immediately to complete the first two movies, “A Troll In Central Park” and “Thumbelina.”

The partners plan to use these two films as the foundation on which to rebuild Bluth’s studio. Their first priority is to rehire many of the staff who lost their jobs when Don Bluth Entertainment went into liquidation, and to put a financial plan in place for the reconstituted company.

The partners hope eventually they will be able to complete the third movie, “The Pebble and the Penguin,” which is still at a very early stage, requiring perhaps another $ 15 million investment.

The exact structure of the Merlin/Media Assets joint venture has yet to be revealed, although it is clear that the latter is providing the bulk of the cash , funnelled through Merlin’s Dublin tax shelter.

Merlin will contribute considerable film industry expertise– aside from Boorman himself, the company’s board includes Boorman’s longtime financial adviser Kieran Corrigan, and ICM’s Jeff Berg.

Merlin and Media Assets plan “a close involvement” in the management of the animation studio, which has attracted criticism in the past for inadequate financial controls. Sources close to the new owners say that the $ 60 million already spent by DBE on the three incompleted movies should have been enough to finish all three — but that they still require a further investment of about $ 20 million.

“A Troll In Central Park” is nearly finished, but will be released after “Thumbelina,” which the new owners plan to complete by the end of January for release in March. As a well-known fairy tale, “Thumbelina” is felt to be the safer commercial bet.

No name has yet been announced for the new company, but Merlin sources indicated they are hoping for permission to retain the name of the old bankrupt studio, Don Bluth Entertainment.

More Biz

  • Apple Event: Everything We Learned From

    Everything We Learned From Today's Apple Event

    After revealing new services in news, finance, and gaming, Apple CEO Tim Cook kept the biggest, most anticipated announcement until last. Cook, along with heads of worldwide video programming Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht, and a whole group of Apple’s creative talents, presented the company’s new Apple TV+ streaming service, which is slated to [...]

  • Wynn Nightlife Announces Residency for Roving

    Wynn Las Vegas to Host Residency for Roving Spanish Party Elrow

    One of Las Vegas’ biggest music players is doubling down on the power of a global brand instead of just a single DJ to help them stay on top of Sin City’s increasingly competitive clubbing scene. Wynn Nightlife has announced a year-long residency and partnership with Spain’s Elrow, a respected Ibiza-born party that last year [...]

  • PledgeMusic Down to a ‘Skeleton Staff,’

    PledgeMusic Down to a ‘Skeleton Staff,’ Although a Potential Buyer Is in the Wings

    PledgeMusic, the direct-to-fan marketplace that has faced serious financial troubles in recent months, is down to a “skeleton staff” and payroll in the U.S. office ceased within the last month, sources close to the situation tell Variety, although a potential buyer is “very interested” in the company and has been in due diligence for several [...]

  • Michael Avenatti

    Michael Avenatti Arrested on Bank Fraud and Extortion Charges

    Attorney Michael Avenatti was arrested Monday and is facing federal charges on both coasts of bank fraud, misappropriating client funds, and trying to extort Nike. Prosecutors in the Southern District of New York allege that Avenatti tried to extract more than $20 million from Nike, and said that if the company did not pay him, [...]

  • Daily Show Viacom

    DirecTV, Viacom Avert Blackout After Marathon Negotiation

    DirecTV and Viacom have agreed on a carriage renewal pact covering a raft of Viacom’s cable channels after a marathon negotiation over the weekend. In a joint statement early Monday, the companies said: “We are pleased to announce a renewed Viacom-AT&T contract that includes continued carriage of Viacom services across multiple AT&T platforms and products. [...]

  • Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018

    Discovery CEO David Zaslav Sees 2018 Compensation Soar to $129.4 Million

    Discovery Inc. president-CEO David Zaslav is once again making headlines for an enormous compensation package. Zaslav’s 2018 compensation soared to $129.44 million in 2018, fueled by stock options and grants awarded as the longtime Discovery chief signed a new employment contract last July that takes him through 2023 at the cable programming group. Zaslav received [...]

  • Jonathan Lamy RIAA

    Jonathan Lamy Stepping Down From RIAA

    Jonathan Lamy, the Recording Industry Association of America’s longtime executive VP of communications and marketing, is stepping down from his post after 17 years, he announced today. As he put it in an email to Variety, “I started back in 2002, which means it’s been 17+ years, four different RIAA CEOs, three format changes and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content