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Lakeshore raises funds, taps ‘Vatican Tapes’ helmer

Shingle will use new $30 million plus refi coin for film production

When comedy “Walk of Shame” wraps production this week, Lakeshore prexy Gary Lucchesi and chairman and CEO Tom Rosenberg will have an extra reason to celebrate: The production shingle recently raised $30 million and closed a five-year refinancing of its $200 million debt facility.

On top of that, the company has set “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” helmer Mark Neveldine to direct thriller “The Vatican Tapes,” marking the filmmaker’s first solo directing gig.

Debt restructuring is Lakeshore’s third revolving credit facility since the company started in 1995. JP Morgan led the latest deal as well as the first, a five-year structure set in 2003 and later extended in 2008. Latest refinancing, which also included participation from Bank of America, replaces that 2008 structure.

Lakeshore also raised some extra junior capital in the 2008 deal, according to Rosenberg, who confirmed the deals to Variety on Monday. Exec declined to specify which company provided Lakeshore with the $30 million in mezzanine capital.

Lakeshore’s assets include a film library of roughly 600 titles, about 65 of which the company produced itself, Rosenberg said. Lakeshore has acquired a number of small film libraries over the years, but bought a big one early on: The Trans Atlantic library, purchased in 1996, included about 350 film and television properties. Lakeshore also absorbed another major group of film assets, the New World library, including 1980s pics such as “Heathers” and “The Punisher.”

Lakeshore’s staff of just over 30 employees also includes an active music division, which Rosenberg estimates produces about 20 soundtracks a year on average. That division has produced soundtracks for pics including “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” and “Napoleon Dynamite,” and new releases include music for “The Words,” “For a Good Time Call” and “Little Birds.”

Lakeshore typically produces between two to four films per year, and has found recent success with the four-picture “Underworld” franchise, which has grossed more than $450 million worldwide. Company recently acquired rights to four-part graphic novel “The Sword” from sibling scribes Jonathan and Joshua Luna, and hopes to find similar franchise success for that property.

While Lakeshore uses soft money and foreign pre-sales to offset its production costs, the company has financed and sold a hefty number of projects on its own. Its new capital will pay for films in a range of budgets that typically don’t stray above $75 million. While Lakeshore estimates it will pay somewhere in the $50 million range for “The Sword,” it’s also ventured on the lower end of the spectrum: In 2006, Lakeshore paid just $3 million to produce “The Dead Girl” starring Toni Collette and Giovanni Ribisi.

Lakeshore has an informal arrangement with Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, with which its co-financed pics including “The Lincoln Lawyer,” “Walk of Shame,” and “I, Frankenstein,” the latter of which is currently in post-production. For pictures produced with SKE, Lakeshore’s staff partners with Sierra/Affinity to sell international territories.

Vatican” won’t be Neveldine’s first experience working with Lakeshore: The multi-hyphenate (repped by UTA) penned 2006’s “Crank” and 2009’s “Crank: High Voltage,” Lakeshore productions released by Lionsgate.

Lakeshore is the latest show biz company to take advantage of loosening credit markets. MGM closed a $650 million refinancing of its debt facility earlier this month, while Village Roadshow scored one of the biggest refinancings in years when it closed a $1.4 billion structure in 2012.

Brothers Marc Reid and Eric Reid, who serve as Lakeshore’s CFO and COO, respectively, arranged the financing on behalf of the company.

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