The BBC is discussing partnering with US and UK-based financing house MM Media Capital Partners (MCP) to create a film fund, worth $280m (£200m) plus.
The proposed investment will kick in over three years and be used to bankroll the BBC's drive into bigger budget productions. MCP would oversee international sales through its newly launched sales arm.
Although negotiations could still collapse, talks have been held between MCP chiefs Hal Sadoff and Rodney Payne and BBC entertainment supremo Alan Yentob. Commercial arm BBC Worldwide, which already invests in feature activities through film unit BBC Films, is also in negotiations.
David Thompson, head of BBC Films, confirmed that the broadcaster has been talking to financiers about a fund for big-budget pictures. BBC Films recently unveiled a three-way development and production partnership for medium-budget pictures with Germany's Kinowelt and Spain's Lolafilm.
"We are committed to establishing a long-term financing structure for larger budget pictures," Thompson said. "Part of the thinking behind that is to ensure that talent that started out with the BBC is able to continue working with us."
Along with keeping hold of filmmakers, the BBC also aims to bring in outside investment into its film activities at a time when BBC director general Greg Dyke faces pressure to cut costs. "We are also looking for a deal where there is a better upside for us," said Thompson. "Having a structured financing arrangement upfront may allow us to secure a better recoupment situation."
BBC Films this year scored a prestigious hit with low-budget comedy Billy Elliot. The division has been developing such larger scale fare as a long-gestating Dr Who adaptation and I Capture The Castle, which Miramax Films is eyeing. Intermedia is on board the BBC's ambitious period piece Mary Queen Of Scots and is in talks to back the BBC-developed The Assumption Of The Virgin through its long-term deal with Mirage Enterprises.
UK distributor Redbus Film Distribution is expected to handle films from the fund through its output deal for projects funded by BBC Worldwide. US distribution will be sought on big-budget projects, either on a title-by-title basis or with a regular partner.