Arclight adds Spice to Aussie movie fund

Org to invest up to 30% in pix with $10 mil + budgets

SYDNEY — Britain’s Spice Factory and Oz-based Arclight Films are launching an Australian film fund, initially aimed at raising $A50 million ($32.5 million).

Fund will invest up to 30% in films budgeted at $10 million and above, 70% of them shot Down Under.

Unlike most Aussie film financing schemes, the fund will not rely on tax incentives, according to Spice Factory topper Michael Cowan and Arclight managing director Gary Hamilton.

Global pursuits

“The fund will provide a revolving gap facility for feature films with international, commercial appeal,” they said in a release Friday.

“We have pooled our combined local and international expertise in production, financing and sales to create a fund aimed to target official co-productions and runaway productions. This is an important development for the Australian film industry as the fund will help grow the Australian production market.”

Cowan said the $10 million-plus budget level would ensure films have name casts that can be pre-sold, maximizing international appeal.

The fund will guarantee investors a return of 120% of their capital, he said. “Our money will be first in and last out, and we will take backend equity over a number of pictures.”

Spice Factory has a close relationship with Arclight, in which it owns a 15% stake. The two have been working on a number of co-productions including the Penelope Cruz and Charlize Theron starrer “Head in the Clouds” and “A Different Loyalty,” with Sharon Stone and Rupert Everett.

Their upcoming slate includes “Merchant of Venice,” from writer-director Michael Radford, toplining Al Pacino; and “Irresistible,” a thriller to be helmed by Ann Turner.

Team players

The coin raised in Oz will be used in conjunction with Movision, one of the U.K.’s leading film funds, set up by Spice Factory. Movision also has co-ventures in Spain and Italy.

Cowan expects the first projects backed by the fund will be chosen in February. He said the plan is for the fund to evolve into an integrated media company that would include an Australian distrib arm.

Cowan and Hamilton said they are discussing participation in the fund with a number of potential partners. It’s being structured in conjunction with Sydney-based legal and taxation adviser Michell Sillar Attorneys.