Artisan may buy out Kushner-Locke library

Acquisition would put company's film and television titles at more than 7,000

HOLLYWOOD — Struggling film and TV concern Kushner-Locke is expected to file a petition soon for a prepackaged bankruptcy reorganization that would give Artisan Entertainment exclusive North American rights to its library assets.

Kushner-Locke execs have decided on a bankruptcy filing as a means of dealing with the L.A.-based company’s long-running financial woes, said a source familiar with the situation. Its Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, which could be filed within days, is expected to include a substantial restructuring of its troublesome bank debt.

Burgeoning catalog

K-L’s 300-plus titles would put Artisan’s film and television titles at more than 7,000 (of which nearly half are movies). Still best known for its 1999 surprise smash “The Blair Witch Project,” Artisan has expanded its library with a series of acquisitions including the Republic Pictures catalog.

The K-L titles are split among feature films, direct-to-video pics, television series, telefilms, minis and animated programming. Feature titles include 1995 release “The Adventures of Pinocchio” and 1999’s “But I’m a Cheerleader.”

K-L has been seeking capital to meet its obligations on a Chase Manhattan loan. Earlier this year, the company retained investment firm Houlihan, Lokey, Howard & Zukin to market its film library and explore other transactions.

K-L shares long have traded at penny-stock levels. On Thursday, shares closed unchanged at 4¢.