Chinese-U.S. sci-fi co-production “Ice Moon Rising” is among a $200 million slate of movie projects to be greenlighted under a new pact between Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Studios and Storyoscopic Films.
The deal sees Storyoscopic produce and finance five or more projects per year. Distribution will be through Relativity’s network of output deals and its North American releasing arm Relativity Europa Distribution. The RED operation is a joint venture with EuropaCorp, hatched in 2010, and in which EuropaCorp took a 50% stake in 2014 for $130 million.
Storyoscopic’s founders, George Lee and Marcus Englefield, and entertainment industry veteran Brent Baum will act as a core part of Relativity’s future slate and production team.
“This partnership is part of Relativity’s shift in its core production business to focus on financing, producing and distributing movies which fall into global family fare, branded feature films or films which boarder (sic) China and the United States,” Relativity said in a statement.
The partnership is putting $35 million into global rights outside China for “Ice Moon Rising,” which is expected to shoot in 2017 at the new Wanda Studios Qingdao. The film is to be directed by David Twohy (“The Chronicles of Riddick”), and written by Rita Augustine, with production by Sriram Das, Steve Chicorel, Baum, Lee and Englefield.
Other titles include “The Loyal Order of Snowmen,” from writers Ron J. Friedman and Steve Bencich (“Open Season,” “Chicken Little”) based on their and illustrator Attaboy’s children’s book of the same title; and the live action family film “Save the Panda,” from writer-director Steve Bencich, about a socially awkward young boy who tries to stop kidnappers from stealing a panda during a class field trip.
The fund portfolio will also encompass Storyoscopic’s animated feature “Animal Crackers,” which is now in post-production. It is directed by Scott Sava and voiced by an all-star cast including Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Sylvester Stallone, Danny DeVito, Sir Ian McKellen, Raven-Symone, Patrick Warburton and Gilbert Gottfried.
Relativity says that it intends also to start production on a number of its sequels including “November Man 2,” “Act of Valor 2,” “Immortals 2” and “Earth to Echo 2.”
Storyoscopic and Relativity also have a number of television projects in development. These include series “Holoscape” from Roddenberry Entertainment (“Star Trek”) and are in association with Jump Creative.
“Storyoscopic Films has strived to create compelling stories for a global market, that resonate with both an Eastern and Western audience. Having such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable distribution and production partner in the amazing team at Relativity only makes the task easier. We now truly have the platform to bridge East and West,” said Storyoscopic’s Lee. The company describes itself as producing “high-quality animation and genre films in the $15-50 million budget range that lend themselves to a global audience.”
Relativity emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April, with founder and CEO Ryan Kavanaugh still in charge, but the company has struggled to find money to pay its creditors and to fund new film productions.
At the end of last month Relativity announced that it had struck a $250 million deal with Singapore-listed YuuZoo. It emerged later that the deal is for an initial $50 million with nearly half of that in YuuZoo shares, not cash, and that YuuZoo will own 33% of Relativity shares.
EuropaCorp last month reported to shareholders that Relativity was in danger of losing its 50% stake in their joint venture after failing to pay its share of the quarterly overhead. (A Relativity spokesperson told Variety that it was EuropaCorp that owed money.)