Ascendant venturing into film

Company, VIP funds join to invest in pix

HOLLYWOOD — Chris Roberts and Christopher Eberts’ Ascendant Pictures has formed a joint venture with Germany’s VIP Mediafunds that plans to invest $100 million-$200 million into at least six films annually.

The funding initially will come through VIP, which plans to raise at least $150 million this year through its most recent fund, VIP3.

Last year, VIP raised $100 million in production financing. Among upcoming pics backed by VIP are Artisan Pictures’ adaptation of Marvel comic “The Punisher” and MDP Worldwide’s “Monster,” starring Charlize Theron.

Ascendant, which has a first-look deal at Morgan Creek Prods., will act as a gatekeeper for the VIP funds, which can be used to fully finance or co-produce projects.

Plans for Teutonic coin

Roberts said the venture plans to access German media funds as well as U.K.-based equity funds.

“We have been working with (Ascendant) over the past year on a nonexclusive basis, and it only made sense to combine our efforts,” said VIP partner Andreas Schmid. “This venture allows us to have a significant presence in Hollywood and have the security of knowing that we have a great team looking out for the interests of my investors.”

Before forming Ascendant, Roberts created the bestselling vidgame “Wing Commander” and later directed the game’s feature adaptation for 20th Century Fox. He also founded gaming and special f/x firm Digital Anvil, which he sold to Microsoft in 2000.

Eberts is a former Fox studio exec who also produced “The Watcher,” “Half Past Dead” and the Oscar-nommed doc “Prisoner of Paradise.”

Koch a consultant

Producer Hawk Koch serves as an Ascendant consultant. Koch was executive producer on “Heaven Can Wait,” “Primal Fear,” “Wayne’s World” and “Keeping the Faith.” He also worked as an assistant director with Roman Polanski on “Chinatown,” John Schlesinger on “Marathon Man” and Sydney Pollack on “The Way We Were.”

John Schimmel, former head of development at Bel-Air Entertainment, serves as production president. Kia Jam, who produced “Dungeons & Dragons” and “Juwanna Mann,” is chief operating officer.

Deborah Aquila and Tricia Wood of Aquila/Wood Casting round out Ascendant’s founding partners. Their recent credits include “What Women Want,” “Mission: Impossible 2,” “One-Hour Photo” and “The House of Sand and Fog.” Aquila/Wood consults on all Ascendant projects.

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