IN-motion, the listed German media company that has a majority stake in Kirk D’Amico’s Myriad Pictures, has bought UK sales operation J&M Entertainment for approximately $20m.
IN-motion, which floated on Frankfurt’s Neuer Markt in June, will merge J&M with US-based Myriad to form a new, yet-to-be-named production and sales entity headed by D’Amico. Julia Palau, who co-founded J&M with Mike Ryan, steps down as chairman. She will set up her own production company with an exclusive first-look deal with the company.
A chunk of the $20m price-tag will go to clear debt with financial institutions including Coutts & Co. But Ryan, who left J&M in 1998 but retained his stake, and Palau are each expected to come away with millions.
The new operation is to have offices in London as well as Los Angeles. D’Amico will travel back and forth between London and Los Angeles, supervising both operations. “We are open for business with UK producers and production companies and we want to make deals with them,” said D’Amico, who added that the J&M library will continue to be serviced out of London and that he has no intention of making any of the J&M staff redundant.
In announcing the deal, Philip von Alvensleben, head of IN-motion’s film and TV group, highlighted the potential for combining J&M and Myriad’s library with the operation’s current slate of films. J&M has a catalogue of more than 200 titles including Lasse Hallstrom’s What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, John Boorman’s The General, Alan Parker’s The Road To Wellville and American Werewolf in Paris. D’Amico added that he is looking to take some of J&M’s producer relationships, such as with Joel Silver, forward.
“The combination of J&M and Myriad Pictures is a solid foundation for our strategy of building a truly global entertainment company,” von Alvensleben said. “This combination increases our presence in both Los Angeles and London. Our new slate of films, when combined with the libraries of J&M and Myriad Pictures, will give us the basis for strong and growing revenues.”
IN-motion has a current sales slate including Chen Kaige’s Killing Me Softly, starring Heather Graham and Joseph Fiennes. The sales, financing and production operation also has Tangled, starring Rachael Leigh Cook; and Deeply, with Lynn Redgrave and Kirsten Dunst; and Tom DiCillio’s upcoming thriller Double Whammy.
“[J&M] is a leader its field and I know we are going to capitalise on that strength as we go forward,” D’Amico added. “We also want to provide a supportive environment for Julia’s new role as a producer.”
Headlining J&M’s recent titles are Dungeons And Dragons and House On Haunted Hill, both born out of a relationship with Silver. Palau has spearheaded the operation after Ryan, who is now based at Guy Collins’ London-based IAC Film and Television, left the company.
“After 22 years of committing so much of my life to the building of this wonderful company, I am looking forward to having the time and resources to pursue a new production career,” Palau commented. “I am delighted to be passing the baton to Kirk and Philip.”
Ryan said: “I’m very happy that Kirk will be running the company. He is a good guy. There have been many overtures over the last five years but this was a good one. They are in the business and they are staying in the business.”
Mike Goodridge in Los Angeles contributed to this report.