Hot German finance house MBP has revealed further projects on its extensive development slate, being financed in a two-step process that involves an initial private placement followed by an IPO (Screendaily Feb 3).
The aggressive financier is set to be German co-producer on Bruce Beresford's $7.6m (A$12m) Boswell, which has Richard Dreyfuss and Geoffrey Rush attached to star. The project is a co-production with Australian producer Sue Milliken. Production is scheduled to start this November.
Meanwhile the fund has also lined up another couple of projects with the UK's Scala Productions - the $11m (£6.9m) animated feature A Christmas Carol, which will feature the voices of Nicolas Cage and Kate Winslet, and Fred Schepisi project Last Order. Jeremy Thomas' Hanway Films is handling international sales on A Christmas Carol.
MBP is also co-producing Rajko Grlic's melodramatic post-cold war comedy Josephine, with Germany's Indigo Film, the UK's Bridie Films and the Czech Republic's In Film. MBP managing director Rainer Mockert added that the fund will also be a partner on the TV series based on Raymond Briggs' children's books Fungus The Bogey Man, in collaboration with Itel, and is in talks with US independent producer Jim Stark to board Norwegian director Bent Hamer's new project Factotum. Hamer and Stark have adapted the project from the Charles Bukowski novel of the same name and plan to shoot on location in Los Angeles later this year.
In the initial stage of MBP's two-step innovative financing process, the finance house has revealed that it will invite on board Australian sales agent Beyond Films, UK production outfits jonescompany, Germany's Indigo and Datty Ruth's German independent video company VCL Film + Medien. Alongside dubbing company ArtSynchro, they will each take stakes of 2.5%-5% in MBP Film, an intermediary holding company. The company then plans a flotation within the next 18 months.
Among jonescompany projects that MBP is backing is $6.4m (£4m) comedy High Times about the cannabis smuggler Howard Marks. MBP previously announced that it is backing jonescompany and Forthcoming Productions' psychological thriller Boathouse, to be directed by Iain Softley. Universal Pictures is also in talks to back the project, as one the first to go through its revamped UK-based production and acquisitions operation. United International Pictures is expected to distribute internationally.
Jones, who worked with Mockert's Hollywood Partners on Ben Hopkins' Simon Magus, aims to bring projects from third-party producers into the operation as well as his own titles.
'For me, this is potentially a very important relationship,' Jones said. 'By working together, we can bring projects to outside parties that are more than just bits of paper. Part of the financing will be attached, which puts everyone in a much stronger position.'
MBP Film will serve as an umbrella for the existing MBP film investment fund, with an annual volume of between $26m-52m (DM50m-DM100m); which has now delivered Kimble Rendall's Cut and the TV series Stingers 2 - which are both being handled internationally by Beyond. It is currently in production or post-production on Declan Lowney's Wild About Harry (aka Thanks For The Memories), produced with Scala Productions.
It is envisaged that Fund II with a volume of up to $52m (DM100m) will be launched by the end of March and involved as majority co-producer in some 20 international feature projects to shoot in 2000/2001.
The first films set to roll this March are Scott Reynolds' $2.1m (A$3.2m) Shearer's Breakfast which will be 100% financed by MBP, and Ray Lawrence's $3.9m (A$6m) Lantana, co-produced with Jan Chapman.
Other previously announced projects include John Goldschmidt's Days Of Fear, co-produced with Goldschmidt's VIVA; Bob Rafelson's Deal Kings, co-produced with Jana Edelbaum's Janus Films and sold internationally by UGC; Michael Jenkins' Fanatic Heart; Andre Bonzel's Deeper Into Jennifer with Eleas Koteas, Deborah Unger and Jonathan Pryce; Istvan Szabo's Taking Sides, produced with Munich-based production outfit Maecenas Film and sold by UGC and two projects being co-produced with Marian Macgowan - Gregor Jordan's Son Of A Gun and Michael Jenkins' Nine Day Republic.
Adam Minns in London and Sandy George in Sydney contributed to this report