×

Warner Bros. Closes Financing Deal With Dune, Brett Ratner, James Packer

Deal follows Legendary departure

Warner Bros. has closed a financing deal with RatPac-Dune Entertainment, a four-year partnership with Dune’s Steven Mnuchin, filmmaker Brett Ratner and Australian billionaire James Packer, to fund up to 75 upcoming films.

The total funds are expected to be in the $450 million million range, Mnuchin told Variety. He expressed optimism that the deal could be extended — as Dune’s pact with 20th Century Fox was on multiple occasions.

The RatPac-Dune coin comes three months after the studio and longtime partner Legendary Entertainment agreed to terminate their longtime co-financing partnership at the end of the year.

Warner’s “Gravity,” starring Sandra Bullock and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, is the first title covered by the new deal. “Gravity” opened the Venice Film Festival amid stellar reviews and will go into wide release Friday.

The co-financing arrangement also covers boxing comedy “Grudge Match,” which opens on Christmas and stars Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone. It includes films from all genres and all budgets including New Line — but will exclude projects from other WB’s co-financing deals with Village Roadshow and Gulfstream, the studio’s distribution pact with Alcon and titles derived from the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Hobbit franchises.

“We are very pleased to be entering into this relationship with RatPac-Dune Entertainment,” said Warner Bros. CEO Kevin  Tsujihara in a statement. “This agreement gives us increased strength and flexibility in the motion picture division and an even greater ability to manage risk as we continue to produce high-quality filmed entertainment for the global audience. We look forward to working with their team as we move forward in this exciting new partnership with a truly great organization.”

Warner Bros. has usually finished in first or second place at the domestic box office over the past decade. The studio noted that it has six films that have crossed the $200 million mark globally this year: “We’re the Millers,” $238 million; “The Conjuring,” $297 million; “The Great Gatsby,” $350 million; “The Hangover – Part III,” $360 million; “Pacific Rim,” $408 million; and “Man of Steel,” $663 million.

Mnuchin said in a satement, “Warner Bros Pictures has an incredible track record of success with the most valuable franchise properties, the best relationships in the creative community and an extremely talented executive team.”

Variety reported on July 9 that Warner Bros. was in talks with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Dune Capital for a major co-financing deal that would help replace Legendary’s coin and that Bank of America had been working with WB for months to put together a roughly $550 million co-financing vehicle with Dune helping to raise roughly $150 million of equity.

Mnuchin told Variety on Monday that both sides shook hands on the outline of a deal several months ago.

Dune pacted in 2005 wth 20th Century Fox on a deal that was renewed multiple times. That pact helped pay for the juggernaut “Avatar,” “Life of Pi” and dozens of other pics at that studio but was not renewed this year as Fox opted for a slate deal with financial guru Chip Seelig.

Legendary began shopping its deal in June after deciding not to renew at WB. It announced in July that its new deal would be at Universal; Variety reported in August that Legendary was planning to spend $275 million annually in U’s films and its own properties within the first two years of the deal and $350 million a year during the next three years.

The WB-Legendary pact dates back to 2005 and provided the funds for several blockbusters including “Inception,” “Man of Steel,” “The Dark Knight Returns,” “The Dark Knight” and the “Hangover” series.

SEE ALSO: Warner Bros. in Talks for Major Co-Financing Deal

Ratner is best known for directing the “Rush Hour” trilogy and also helmed “Red Dragon,” “X-Men: The Last Stand” and  “Tower Heist.” He’s moved into production in recent years via his Rat Entertainment banner with credits on “Mirror Mirror” and “Horrible Bosses.”

Ratner is also directing and producing the upcoming “Hercules,” starring Dwayne Johnson, for MGM and Paramount. He teamed up late last year to form RatPac Entertainment with Packer, the chairman of Crown Limited, one of Australia’s largest resort and entertainment groups.

Packer is the son of the late Australian media mogul Kerry Packer.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Emma Stone Variety Actors on Actors

    First Look at Emma Stone in Disney's Live-Action 'Cruella' Drops

    Emma Stone’s Cruella de Vil is significantly more punk rock than her animated counterpart. Stone appeared via video message to debut the first look of the titular character in Disney’s “Cruella” at D23 on Saturday, also revealing that it will take place in the punk rock era of the 1970s. In the first photo, Stone [...]

  • ‘Mulan’ Star Skips D23 Press Amid

    'Mulan' Star Crystal Yifei Liu Skips D23 Amid International Controversy

    Crystal Yifei Liu, the star of Disney’s live action remake of “Mulan,” skipped the press line and Disney panel at Disney’s D23 expo Saturday in the heat of the #BoycottMulan controversy. Unlike the other portions of the Saturday Disney panel, which featured both stars and directors for the other films presented, the “Mulan” panel was [...]

  • Marvel Stars Want Tom Holland's Spider-Man

    Marvel Stars Want to Keep Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the MCU

    Marvel fans aren’t the only ones heartbroken that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man might not be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. “It really is sad. First off, he’s the greatest Spider-Man to me. He actually has that youthful energy,” Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Scarlet Witch in the MCU, told Variety at D23 on Friday. “He’s been [...]

  • Kit Harington

    'Game of Thrones' Star Kit Harington Joins 'The Eternals'

    Jon Snow is leaving the North. “Game of Thrones” star Kit Harington is joining the cast of “The Eternals” as Dane Whitman, also known as the Black Knight, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige announced Saturday on the main stage at D23. Feige also confirmed Gemma Chan’s appearance in the film as Sersi, another member of [...]

  • Marvel Studios' BLACK PANTHER..T'Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick

    'Black Panther' Sequel Set for 2022 Release

    “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler announced the release date of the much-anticipated follow-up film at D23 in Anaheim, Calif. Saturday. “Black Panther 2” will hit theaters May 6, 2022. “We’re not taking our time, we’re really trying to get it right,” Coogler said of the production schedule. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige said Coogler has [...]

  • Carrie Fisher

    'Star Wars': J.J. Abrams Says Carrie Fisher Is 'the Heart of' 'Rise of Skywalker'

    Director J.J. Abrams spoke at length about Carrie Fisher during D23’s Walt Disney Studios panel on Saturday, saying that the late Princess Leia actress is “the heart of” the final installment in the Skywalker saga. “The character of Leia is really, in a way, the heart of this story,” Abrams said. “We realized we could [...]

  • Inhabited

    ‘Inhabited,’ ‘Sisters,’ ‘Aracne’ Stand Out at Sanfic Industria Prize Gala

    Friday night saw Sanfic Industria close out a week of co-production meetings, screenings and tutoring with an awards ceremony where a handful of the 34 projects and six works in progress at this year’s 6th edition were recognized. In addition to the awards ceremony, Friday night’s festivities included a 10th anniversary party for the partnership between CinemaChile [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content