Laffer label kicks off

Weinsteins, Johnson plan family comedies

BET founder Robert Johnson is teaming with the Weinstein Co. to launch a film label that will produce family comedy pics aimed at African-American auds.

No official date was given for the company’s launch, and no slate or management team was unveiled.

JPMorgan Chase has committed to financial backing of the venture, with up to $175 million under terms to be negotiated.

Initial details of the company — dubbed Our Stories Films — were unveiled while Johnson and Harvey Weinstein schmoozed at Allen & Co.’s annual conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, where bigwigs have traditionally struck deals behind the scenes.

Based in Los Angeles, unit will have a Gotham outpost. Johnson will directly run the unit, controlling decisions over production, acquisitions and financing. Its output will be distribbed via TWC genre arm Dimension Films and its homevid unit Genius Products.

“Never before has an African-American had ‘greenlight authority’ at a studio, combined with this quality of financing and a distribution partner that has a proven track record in successful urban films,” said Johnson from the Sun Valley conference.

JPMorgan Chase managing director John Miller said that Johnson “clearly understands the financial realities of the film business and what it takes to market to urban-based consumers.”

TWC also recently announced a Latin American film fund with Argentine entrepreneur and arts patron Eduardo Costantini Jr., as well as Dragon Dynasty, an upscale DVD label that will become home to a burgeoning collection of Asian action titles.