Village Roadshow Sells Controlling Stake

Vine Alternative Investments and Falcon Investment Advisor have acquired a controlling stake in Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, the maker of the “Sherlock Holmes” and “Matrix” films.

The production company said the transaction should be looked at less like a straight-out sale than the first stages of a new strategic plan that will enable them to expand their slate of films and allow them to move into television and other forms of content. The partners did not reveal any financial information about the deal or the size and structure of the investment.

“They are providing the capital to take our business to the next level,” said Greg Basser, CEO of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group.

The plan is for Village Roadshow to begin developing its own projects instead of just providing equity investments and production involvement on other studios’ films. It has a deal at Warner Bros., but also makes movies with other studios.

“They want us to bring them projects,” said Bruce Berman, chairman and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures Entertainment, the holding company of Village Roadshow Pictures. “It’s not about owning more of the movie or about executing better in terms of quality control. We’re trying to enhance what we do, so we’re picking out exciting stories and being additive.”

Village Roadshow’s leaders said the company will continue to be involved in between six to ten movies annually, and could see the number of projects it backs increase as it ramps up its own in-house operations. The studio will hire additional staffers to help with its development and will look into a mixture of backing original scripts and snapping up rights to books and other types of intellectual property. The goal is to ultimately produce one or two films a year that have been gestated within the company.

Burke said that talks began several months ago. Vine and Falcon have been longtime stakeholders in the company dating back to 2015 as part of a $480 million recapitalization deal. Both firms have financial ties to the entertainment industry, having backed the likes of Legendary and EuropaCorp.

As part of the deal, Jim Moore, CEO of Vine, will assume the role of chairman of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group while Graham Burke, co-chairman and Co-CEO of Village Roadshow Limited, the company’s founding Australian parent, will continue in his role as chairman of Village Roadshow Pictures. The entertainment group’s executive team will remain in place with Basser and Berman continuing in their roles.

J.P. Morgan Chase and Rabobank International to provide the funding for Village Roadshow’s co-financing deal with Warner Bros., a pact that is slated to last 20 years.

The company’s upcoming films include Steven Spielberg’s “Ready Player One,” “Ocean’s Eight” with Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, and “The Lego Ninjago Movie.”

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