India’s Toonz close to raising $75 million for film fund

Epiphany coin would finance New Myth projects

Looking for access to more high-quality commercial product, India-based vfx house Toonz Entertainment has enlisted financing vet Premila Hoon to assemble a film fund — and the company says it’s close to closing a deal.

Hoon, a former Societe Generale banker and an architect of one of the Dune co-financing deals with 20th Century Fox, said her venture already has $75 million in equity commitments from five investors, including Toonz, “Transformers” producer Tom DeSanto’s New Myth Entertainment and three public distributors in Eastern Europe, China and South Korea. Each investor would put in $15 million.

But while that money isn’t quite in the bank, Hoon is optimistic that the deal could close soon.

“We really do intend to close by the end of March,” Hoon told Variety.

As part of the deal, the three companies would take distribution rights in their respective territories. That’s similar to the goal of Sony’s co-financing partner Hemisphere, which requires that most of its distribution investors retain the right to unspool pics on their home turf.

Toonz is also looking to close a $125 million credit facility on top of the equity component. But without a film library to back it up, Toonz’s new venture — dubbed Epiphany — would probably not have access to that money until after the release of the first film.

But the studios could also want to see a bank deal closed before making a distribution agreement, posing a sort of Catch-22 not unique to Epiphany: Investors often demand the security of studio distribution before they put money into a deal, while banks and studios want to know that money is real before they commit to distribution.

Epiphany hopes to fund three films should it close the $200 million facility. Ideally, all three would involve New Myth, and Hoon says the group has held conversations with the studios to land a distribution deal.

The first project Epiphany would co-finance is New Myth’s “Faces,” a sci-fi thriller “in the vein of ‘The Bourne Identity’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ ” according to a release from the company.

Toonz, part of Singapore-based media company Toonz Entertainment, has worked on television series including Nicktoons’ “Wolverine and the X-Men” and “Speed Racer: The Next Generation.” Company hopes that a new film fund could help give Toonz’s Indian-based production facilities more access to tentpole animation fare.

Hoon previously served as global head of media and entertainment at Societe Generale, where she led film financing transactions including the bank’s participation in Dune’s multihundred-million-dollar facility with Fox.