The Zoetrope Zone

Coppola banner taps Rock, nears funding pact

Signaling its commitment to developing an ambitious feature film production slate, Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope has tapped indie film veteran Bobby Rock as VP of production and acquisitions.

Rock will ankle his current post as VP of acquisitions at Trimark Pictures to join Zoetrope on Aug. 9. He’ll be based at Zoetrope’s L.A. offices, reporting to company prexy and former Trimark senior VP Ray Price.

Before Price joined Zoetrope late last year, Rock and Price worked together closely at Trimark, building the Santa Monica-based indie’s specialized division.

Zoetrope is reportedly close to a deal that will provide it with roughly $100 million in insurance-backed production funds. The company has also recently entered into a co-financing pact with MGM.

Zoetrope expects to make up to five films a year, most of them budgeted under $10 million.

Among the projects now in active development are “The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing” at Disney, based on a short story by Melissa Banks that appeared in Coppola’s Zoetrope All Story magazine.

The company has also revived a long-gestating feature version of Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road.”

A member of the MGM board, Coppola is active in the efforts to revitalize the UA label in its new incarnation as the studio’s specialized arm.

“Bobby has distinguished himself in the area of finding exciting new filmmaking talent,” said Coppola.

In addition to acquiring finished films for Trimark and other specialized distributors, Rock has bought a number of projects in script stage, including director Mike Figgis’ debut “Stormy Monday” for Atlantic Releasing, and Kasi Lemmons’ “Eve’s Bayou” at Trimark.

Before joining Trimark in 1995, Rock manned the L.A. office of October Films. Before that, he spent four years at Triton, where he oversaw the acquisition of “A Brief History of Time” and “The Hairdresser’s Husband.”

Prior to that he spent five years at Atlantic Releasing.

“The technology is finally catching up to Francis’ vision,” said Rock, who observed that Coppola had long predicted the impact digital video cameras would have on independent filmmaking. “It will be great to see what he comes up with next over the next 10 or 20 years.”

Zoetrope most recently produced Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides,” to which Paramount Classics acquired domestic distribution rights at this year’s Cannes fest.

Noting that Rock’s first production job was as a p.a. on the set of Coppola’s “One From the Heart,” the director-producer said, “It is with great pleasure we welcome him back into our family.”

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