Good week for British producer Jeremy Thomas. It looks as though the ever-resourceful veteran has managed to revive not one but two movies whose financing had previously fallen apart.
David Mackenzie’s Scottish thriller “Young Adam,” starring Ewan McGregor and produced by Thomas’ Recorded Picture Co., stalled in pre-production last September, but now will start shooting March 14. New backers include the Film Council’s Premiere Fund and Warner Bros., which has pre-bought U.K. rights.
More impressive yet, Thomas and his sales company HanWay are riding to the rescue of Mike Barker’s historical drama “Cromwell and Fairfax.”
The pic started shooting Jan. 20 but was suspended Feb. 11 when the original financier, IAC Films, couldn’t hold the money together. With HanWay replacing IAC, cameras finally were due to roll again over the weekend.
Coin is coming from DZ Bank and private equity brokered by U.K. tax financier Visionview. Final details were being hammered out at the end of last week.
Pic, produced by Kevin Loader for Natural Nylon, stars Tim Roth as Oliver Cromwell, leader of the parliamentary forces in the English Civil War during the mid-17th-century, and Dougray Scott as his top general, Thomas Fairfax. Rupert Everett plays the doomed king Charles I.
Meanwhile, Thomas has been shuttling between Los Angeles and New York to set up the next Bernardo Bertolucci movie, “Paris ’68,” which is scheduled to shoot this summer.
All in all, with Ben Kingsley up for an Oscar for “Sexy Beast” and Phillip Noyce’s critically acclaimed “Rabbit-Proof Fence” tipped for a Cannes slot, Thomas is on a roll. That’s not just good for him, it’s also good news for the British film industry.
Bloodied but unbowed by the “Cromwell and Fairfax” saga, IAC Films is pushing ahead with a planned flotation April 18 on London’s Alternative Investment Market. The grave illness of the company’s founder and chairman Guy Collins hasn’t made things any easier, but he’s now on the road to recovery from a life-saving operation, and hoping to be back at work within a couple of months.
BY THE NUMBERS
Enron-itis is sweeping the indie film business as auditors start to panic about the industry’s long-established traditions of creative accounting. Intermedia caught a dose last week when it was forced to issue a profit warning, as a result of switching to the more cautious practice of booking revenues on a film’s theatrical release rather than on delivery.
At a stroke, that pushed the $90 million Harrison Ford movie “K-19: The Widowmaker” from last year’s balance sheet to this year’s, wiping out the company’s projected 2001 profits and triggering a 63% collapse of its stock price. The positive spin is that no pre-sale revenues have been lost — their impact on Intermedia’s books have simply been delayed.
Meanwhile, fellow Neuer Markt outfit In-Motion, parent of Myriad Pictures, is in open conflict with its auditors, KPMG. The In-Motion board is claming revenues of $263 million and a pre-tax profit of $9.6 million for the year ended Sept. 30, 2001. But KPMG wants to strike out $87 million of revenues, attributable to off-balance sheet financing from film funds. The battle already has delayed publication of the company’s results since the end of last year, in which time its stock price has declined by more than 60%.
“After Enron, the accountancy firms are being preposterously conservative,” confides one exec at a Neuer Markt company. “They are saying that if you do off-balance sheet financing, as we all do, then you don’t own the movie and can’t recognize it in your books, even if you have distribution rights.”