Sony to distribute ‘Zookeeper’

Cash-strapped co-producer MGM agrees move

With MGM’s fate remaining uncertain, the beleaguered studio’s agreed to have Sony handle the global theatrical distribution for “Zookeeper” this fall.

Sony and MGM, which co-produced the Kevin James comedy, made the joint announcement Sunday. The disclosure also said MGM will retain “important” TV rights and the two studios will have equal profit participation across all distribution platforms.

The announcement said MGM co-CEO Mary Parent and Jeff Blake, Chairman, Sony Pictures Worldwide Marketing & Distribution, made the joint decision to ensure that early marketing and promotion was not impacted by MGM’s ongoing financial reorganization.

“Zookeeper” is directed by Frank Coraci and co-produced by MGM and Sony, Happy Madison and Broken Road Prods. It’s set for an Oct. 8 domestic launch.

Sunday’s announcement came five days after MGM received another month and a half of relief from payments on its debt, with its lenders agreeing to skip receiving payments until mid-May. It’s the fourth time since September that lenders to MGM have made such an agreement, aimed at giving CEO Stephen Cooper enough time to restructure the storied studio.

The announcement also said that MGM’s received an OK from lenders to forego a payment that was due April 8 on its $250 million credit line.

MGM put itself up for sale in November, drawing a trio of binding offers three weeks ago. But Lionsgate bailed out a week later and left only Time Warner and Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries in the running.

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