Agents are famous for boasting they just cut the best deal Hollywood has ever seen.
With the recent flood of private equity money into Hollywood, there’s bound to be the same sort of jockeying between the new players planting a stake in the movie biz.
Listen to the chatter in the studio commissaries and you hear the equity mavens and their minions boasting that they captured a bigger piece of the revenue pie or an earlier point of recoupment — or even an invitation to have dinner with a star or star filmmaker.
The putdowns of rivals can be downright bitchy — and reminiscent of agents’ putdowns of competitors.
With Warners the only studio so far to team up with two of the new private equity funds — Legendary Pictures and Virtual Studios — it would hardly be a surprise if each viewed the other as wary step-sibling — even if each would tell you they’re not. So far, Legendary is attracting the most buzz. It’s bankrolling half of Warner tentpoles “Batman Begins” and “Superman Returns,” among other movies. With titles like that on its masthead, Legendary is instantly high-profile — whether or not it wants to be.
Virtual, led by veteran investment banker Benjamin Waisbren and backed by $528 million in private equity, will co-finance six WB films. The first is “V for Vendetta.” Virtual also is co-financing Steven Soderbergh‘s “The Good German” and “Blood Diamond,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
All sides deny there’s any competition for WB projects, but Legendary and Virtual will be tracking each other’s box office performance with keen interest — as will their investors.
Legendary is different from Virtual and the other new co-financing funds in that it wants to develop its own projects. It also will play a role throughout the production process on movies it partners on with Warners. That means Legendary folks are sitting in on all marketing and production sessions regarding “Superman Returns,” which bows in June.
Hollywood’s old guard has always been suspicious of moneymen who arrive in town with aspirations to produce. Legendary, which recently brought aboard former Hyde Park Entertainment prexy Jon Jashni to head up development and production, is willing to bide its time and let others say what they will in the meantime.
So where is Village Roadshow Pictures, Warners’ longtime co-financing and co-producing ally, left in the mix?
Last month, Roadshow said it was increasing its borrowing ability and would look to team up with other studios. It isn’t leaving the Warners lot, but is looking for some field trips.
It’s getting a little crowded back on the home front.