Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Company, which last year bought Paris-based Pandora Cinema, has created a new company Gaylord Films and entered into a co-financing and production deal with Warner Bros Pictures which could result in as many as ten films over the next four years.
Headed by veteran producer Hunt Lowry, Gaylord will produce and co-finance the films, while Warner Bros will co-finance and handle worldwide distribution. Gaylord also plans to earmark funds for pitch and script purchases and development. Gaylord Entertainment chairman EK Gaylord II will oversee the division.
Pandora Cinema or Pandora Films as it has been renamed will become the speciality division of Gaylord Films and will look to co-produce certain projects through Warner. Rumours were circulating in Toronto that Pandora's Paris operation will be closed and that president Ernst Goldschmidt will move into a consulting role for the company. Meanwhile Pandora will aim to produce more US fare such as the recently completed Donnie Darko directed by Richard Kelly and co-produced with Drew Barrymore's Flower Films. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Jena Malone, Barrymore, Noah Wyle and Patrick Swayze.
Lowry, who first worked with Warner Bros when he was a producer on A Time To Kill in 1996, has been working on the deal for "a long time", he said in a statement. Other key executives at Gaylord Films include Casey La Scala and Stacy Cohen, who have worked with Lowry at The Walt Disney Co for the past four years. While at Disney, he produced Disney's The Kid (2000) and Instinct (1999); his other credits include First Knight and The Last Of The Mohicans.
Craig Jacobson of Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman & Warren and Endeavor negotiated the deal on behalf of Gaylord Films.
Gaylord joins an increasing number of independent companies either fully financing or co-financing pictures with Warner Bros with which the studio feeds its worldwide distribution organisation. Others include Bel Air Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures, Castle Rock Entertainment, Alcon Entertainment, Morgan Creek, Franchise Pictures, FilmFour and The Canton Co.
Gaylord Entertainment numbers among its assets the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, a trio of hotels, cable television networks, an event television arm, sports management division, a record label and music publishing company.