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New wave reshaping Lakeshore

Company banks CDP, Mosaic ties

CDP Capital Entertainment and Mosaic Media Group have acquired a minority interest in Paramount Pictures-based Lakeshore Entertainment and Lakeshore Intl., Lakeshore founder Tom Rosenberg told Daily Variety Thursday.

In addition, Rosenberg said that Lakeshore will take over international sales of “Bulletproof Monk,” which was previously repped by Stewart Till’s Signpost Films. Both Mosaic and Signpost are backed by CDP.

CDP’s Henry Winterstern will now serve as co-chairman of Lakeshore with Rosenberg, who also acts as the company’s president. While CDP and Mosaic have a six-month option to acquire additional equity in Lakeshore, they will likely remain a minority partner.

Murky Signpost

The acquisition posits Lakeshore as CDP and Mosaic’s new Hollywood partner, while seriously calling Signpost’s viability into question. With the loss of “Bulletproof Monk,” Signpost currently has no active productions. Signpost also has been under pressure from CDP to find fresh equity (Daily Variety, Aug. 28).

Reps for Mosaic and CDP did not return calls late Thursday,

“Bulletproof Monk” is in post and set for a spring release through MGM. Last month Signpost dropped out of a deal to co-finance and handle foreign sales on DreamWorks’ “The House of Sand and Fog” over budget concerns. Cobalt Media Group eventually replaced Signpost on that pic.

“The CDP partnership brings us a large pension fund that has the desire to participate in American entertainment ventures,” Rosenberg said. CDP, a venture capital offshoot of Canada’s biggest public pension fund, is the only outside investor in Lakeshore, which Rosenberg launched in 1995.

Eye on library

Rosenberg said that while he did not expect CDP’s investment to increase Lakeshore’s current output of four or five titles a year, the cash could enable the company to grow through library acquisitions.

Lakeshore is currently in post on “The Human Stain,” starring Nicole Kidman and Anthony Hopkins. It’s in production on its 29th film to date, “Underworld,” which will be released through Screen Gems.

At its launch last November, Signpost said it had raised about $300 million in equity and debt that was to be used to finance half a dozen pics a year and to set up local distribution operations in major international territories. It announced plans to expand its output in the first five years to an estimated production and distribution spend of more than $2 billion (Daily Variety, Jan. 31).

While the intention was always to bring in other equity partners, none have manifested, and CDP indicated that it wasn’t willing to continue funding Signpost if none were found. CDP and Mosaic are Signpost’s principal shareholders.

In the 18 months leading up to the launch of Signpost, Till and CDP twice came close to raising substantial amounts of additional equity. However, Germany’s Helkon dropped out after the death of founder Werner Koenig, and Hallmark Entertainment pulled out after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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