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Shingle has Mandate in the States

Exex Drake, Kahane, Goldsmith led buyout

Senator Intl., the Stateside operation of Senator Entertainment, has completed a management buyout and changed its name to Mandate Pictures.

President Joe Drake, production head Nathan Kahane and chief financial officer Brian Goldsmith led the buyout. They are the shingle’s only shareholders, although Peter Schlessel serves as a consultant.

Mandate, which secured financial backing and a revolving credit facility from a New York-based hedge fund, will continue as an indie sales and financing shingle that concentrates on commercial titles.

Senator Intl. spent a year trying to separate itself from its ailing Teutonic parent. Senator is Germany’s second-biggest film producer-distrib, but the company and its subsids filed for insolvency in April after massive writedowns on its film library and investments drained it of capital.

‘Realize the full potential’

“We have built a vibrant company over the last three years, providing the industry with much-needed commercial pictures,” said Drake. “With the close of this transaction, we shed the financial constraints that were holding us back and we are finally in a position to realize the full potential of this organization.”

Drake said Mandate will continue to produce four to six pics a year and might add additional staff as the company makes more movies.

Shingle also announced that Takashi Shimizu would direct “The Grudge 2” for Ghost House Pictures, Mandate’s joint genre production label with Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert.

Upcoming pics include “Dibbuk Box,” “Scarecrow,” “The Evil Dead” and “30 Days of Night.”

Strange ways

Mandate also is producing “Strangers” for Universal with Vertigo Entertainment and will go into production in April on “Stranger Than Fiction,” directed by Marc Forster and starring Will Ferrell.

Though no financial details of the transaction were disclosed, its separation from Senator, which started in January 2004, marks the end of the Neuer Markt era of German-backed production shingles based in the U.S.

A Berlin court released theatrical distrib Senator Film Verleih and Senator Film Produktion from bankruptcy protection in September, paving the way for the parent company’s recapitalization.

Goldsmith negotiated the transaction with Stephen Scharf and Robert Haymer of O’Melveny & Myers.