Polygram Filmed Entertainment has won the bidding war for the 1,045-title Epic film library owned by French government agency CDR, beating out contenders with a $225 million offer, other bidders said late Tuesday.
The move achieves Polygram’s long-sought goal of bulking up its film catalog after unsuccessful attempts in recent years to buy the Samuel Goldwyn library, as well as MGM.
The sale of the collection of film titles from defunct film companies that ran into trouble with loans from France’s Credit Lyonnais marks an end to the Gallic bank’s disastrous adventure in Hollywood during the 1980s. The Consortium des realisations was set up to help dispose of the French bank’s massive portfolio of troubled assets.
Among the dozen or so bidders for the Epic collection were MGM, Disney and Live Entertainment.
The Epic library includes worldwide video rights to Castle Rock films such as “When Harry Met Sally …,” “City Slickers” and “Misery.” Other titles include “Mr. Mom,” “The Graduate,” “Hoosiers” and “Blue Velvet.” In many cases TV rights in a patchwork of territories also are available.
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MGM has a short-term video licensing agreement for 100 titles in the Epic collection. The rest are B pictures such as “Robot Jox” and “Troll II.”
The library sale follows more than four years of work by attorneys at Loeb & Loeb who painstakingly sorted through the detritus of bankrupt companies such as Hemdale and Nelson Entertainment to clarify licensing agreements and copyright ownership.
Neither Polygram nor Furman Selz, the investment bank acting as CDR’s advisers, could be reached for comment.
It remains to be seen whether a claim by Warner Bros. to distribution rights on the entire Epic film library will be an issue for Polygram (Daily Variety, Nov. 14).