Butan new bigwig at 2929 Prods.

Exec to aid in developing projects in $10 mil-$30 mil range

Former Lions Gate executive vice president Marc Butan has been appointed head of 2929 Prods., the film-producing and -financing venture founded last year by partners Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban.

That duo is getting aggressive in the film production game after making several key strategic acquisitions last year through their parent company, 2929 Entertainment.

Wagner and Cuban last year acquired the Landmark Theater arthouse chain, launched HDNet Films to make low-budget films and acquired Magnolia Pictures Distribution.

They got started in films by co-financing and co-producing with Section Eight “The Criminal” and “The Jacket,” both to be distributed by Warner Independent, and “Godsend,” starring Robert De Niro and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. Latter film will be released by Lions Gate in April.

It was the working experience on “Godsend” that led 2929 Entertainment CEO Wagner to offer Butan the job. Butan, who’d spent three years at Lions Gate, left six weeks ago to take the 2929 post.

Butan and Wagner will develop projects in the $10 million-$30 million range, and Wagner said 2929 will partner on each film with a studio. They’ll split costs and pay a distribution fee to ensure a studio has incentive to market the films. Wagner will also provide equity financing for projects 2929 did not generate, when it makes sense to do so.

“We have deliberately taken our time, looking to be opportunistic,” Wagner said. “We won’t look to make a deal with one studio, because we want to work with several different ones and see which does the best job.”

Wagner and Cuban come to film after making their fortunes co-founding Broadcast.com and cashing out with a sale to Yahoo! in 1999.

While Cuban has subsequently developed a higher profile because he became the vocal owner of the Dallas Mavericks, Wagner’s entry into showbiz has been comparatively low-key, laying the groundwork for a diversified entertainment company.

Company also owns Rysher Entertainment, which brought 2929 a library of titles and syndication rights to TV shows like “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Sex and the City” and “Star Search,” including a new version of the latter show that currently airs on CBS. Company also owns HDNet, the hi-def TV network co-founded by Cuban.

Wagner feels it’s time to make movies. “I went into this business thinking this is what I will want to do for the next 10 years,” Wagner said. “I was in no hurry to plop down money to make big movies, because that is a mistake many have made and paid for.”

Wagner has set up headquarters in Santa Monica and hopes within the next three years to be making three to seven low-budget pics through HDNet Films, making up to three self-generated features with studio partners and staking three to five other films a year.

More Film

  • 'Who Will Write Our History' Review:

    Film Review: 'Who Will Write Our History'

    The most famous diarist of the Holocaust, Anne Frank, began to write down the drama of her daily life with no ulterior motive (apart from her teenage ambition to write fiction). But in March 1944, the year before she died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, she heard a radio broadcast by a member of the [...]

  • Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer

    Film News Roundup: 'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Trailer Sets Sony Pictures Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Spider-Man: Far From Home” sets a studio record, Chris Meledandri and Glenn Close are honored, an art-house streaming service is unveiled, and “Cliffs of Freedom” gets a release. TRAILER STATS The first “Spider-Man: Far From Home” trailer has set a record as the biggest digital launch in Sony Pictures history [...]

  • Frank Grillo Hell on the Border

    Frank Grillo to Star in the Thriller 'Hell on the Border'

    Frank Grillo is set to star in the action-thriller “Hell on the Border” with Wes Miller directing. Miller also penned the script with Curtis Nichouls, Henry Penzi, and Sasha Yelaun producing. Ron Perlman is also on board to co-star. Plot details are unknown at this time. Production is currently underway in Birmingham, Ala. Grillo has [...]

  • Lee Unkrich Variety Oscars Nominees Lunch

    'Toy Story 3,' 'Coco' Director Lee Unkrich to Exit Pixar After 25 Years

    Lee Unkrich, who won Academy Awards for “Toy Story 3” and “Coco,” is departing Pixar Animation Studios after 25 years to spend more time with his family. Unkrich joined Pixar in 1994 after working as an assistant editor in television on “Silk Stalkings” and “Renegade.” He served as editor on Pixar’s first feature, 1995’s “Toy [...]

  • Velvet Buzzsaw trailer

    Netflix Original Movies: What to Look Forward To in 2019

    Following the biggest fourth-quarter worldwide subscriber gain ever and some controversy around increased prices in the U.S., Netflix looks to keep its momentum going into 2019. From Jan. 18 through March, the streaming site will release 10 original films, including action-packed thrillers, a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, quirky comedies, inspirational dramas, an artistic horror movie and a viral [...]

  • Third 'Fantastic Beasts' Production Start Pushed

    Third 'Fantastic Beasts' Production Start Pushed Back Several Months

    Warner Bros. is pushing back the production start date of its third “Fantastic Beasts” movie several months from July to the late fall, a spokesperson said Friday. Actors have been notified about the change in dates. The untitled third “Fantastic Beasts” movie has not yet set a release date. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find [...]

  • The Beatles Eight Days a Week

    Imagine's Documentary Arm Sets First-Look Pact With Apple (EXCLUSIVE)

    Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Documentaries has set a first-look pact with Apple to develop non-fiction features and series. The deal comes as Imagine is investing heavily in the premium non-fiction arena. The company in June recruited RadicalMedia veteran Justin Wilkes to head Imagine Documentaries as president. The deal suggests that Apple sees docu [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content