Cutting Edge Tunes Up Shingle Aimed at Music-Themed Pics (EXCLUSIVE)

Cutting Edge Group, which has invested in more than 200 films, is forming the Cutting Edge Originals banner to develop and produce music-themed feature films.

“Cutting Edge Originals is about great stories that will depend on great music,” said CEG topper Philip Moross. “This model was perfected by Robert Stigwood with ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease,’ and we’re aiming just as high.”

The production shingle is launching at Cannes with producer-financier James Gibb and Tara Moross, CEG’s current head of business development, as co-toppers.

Five-year-old CEG has invested in “The King’s Speech,” “Drive,” “Looper” and “End of Watch” in exchange for music publishing rights.

It handles scoring, clearances and music supervision in a film, then recoups from soundtrack and sheet-music sales; licensing and royalties from international ticket sales and TV deals; and rights in TV commercials.

Earlier this year, CEG raised $100 million in equity as part of a strategy to become the world’s predominant vertically-integrated film music services company and then acquired film-TV soundtrack label Varese Sarabande Records.

The template for Cutting Edge Originals grew out of British comedy-musical “Unfinished Song,” starring Terence Stamp, Gemma Arterton and Vanessa Redgrave, produced by Philip Moross and Ken Marshall. “Song” has grossed $3 million in the U.K. since its February opening and will be released by the Weinstein Co. in the U.S. on June 21.

Moross told Variety that music-themed films such as “The Bodyguard,” “The Commitments” and “Pitch Perfect” had convinced him that audiences will support such fare — and noted that the soundtracks offer a second generator of revenues.

“Pitch Perfect” was a surprise success last year with more than $100 million in global box office for Universal, which has started work on a sequel.

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