Grosvenor goes after coin

Company bows fund, avoids Teuton tax holdups

BERLIN – After an unsuccessful attempt to launch a springtime film fund in Germany, Grosvenor Park is getting ready to release a new open-ended blind fund that could raise between DM 150 million and DM 300 million ($70 million and $140 million) for a number of upcoming projects.

The fund, which will close in mid-December, is to be marketed this summer.

Company was recently forced to scrap plans for a $12.5 million fund for the film adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” starring Judi Dench and Rupert Everett. That pic has gone into production sans Grosvenor Park.

The new blind fund circumvents many provisions of the new tax legislation introduced in Germany this year that toughened up the rules for film financing. Some obstacles of the new decree included stipulations that prohibit investors from coming on board a fund after production has actually started on a film. In addition, the fund itself now enjoys producer status.

A blind fund also gives Grosvenor Park the freedom to first raise a considerable amount of dough and then search for interesting projects to bankroll after the fund closes, according to Bill Friday, Grosvenor Park’s representative in Germany. Although investors may not initially know which films they will be financing, the company is relying on its track record to promote the fund, adds Friday.

The main problem faced by the “The Importance of Being Earnest” fund was the fact that high-end investors here usually wait until year’s end, when they start thinking about tax write-offs and deferrals, before they start looking for investment opportunities.

“In a normal year we would never have sought to launch a fund in spring,” says Friday.

In January, Grosvenor Park announced plans to raise some $120 million through a fund aimed specifically at European projects.

Some of those pics were canceled, however, due to the threat of a writers’ and actors’ strike.

Grosvenor Park, which managed to raise around $1 billion in film funding last year, has co-produced pics such as “The Claim” with Wes Bentley and a new adaptation of Alexander Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo”; it also co-financed “Buffalo Soldier” with FilmFour.

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