The three leading foreign distributors involved in Mutual Film Company have jointly secured a $200m revolving credit line allowing the production company to develop and finance projects without having to necessarily wait for a greenlight from a Hollywood studio partner.
The flexible financing arrangement is the result of a three-year credit line that Germany's TeleMuenchen, UK public broadcaster BBC and leading Japanese distributor Toho-Towa have negotiated with a banking consortium led by Union Bank of California.
This new facility means that Mutual is no longer dependent on reaching a split rights deal with a studio such as Paramount, with which it enjoys a standard overhead deal in return for a first look at projects, in order to start production. In addition to Paramount, Mutual has collaborated regularly with Universal Pictures.
"This commitment" explained Mutual principal Gary Levinsohn, "allows us to commit to these projects on a much faster basis than has been possible in the past."
Levinsohn's partner in Mutual, Mark Gordon continued: "In an ideal world, we would like all of our films to flow through our independent financing structure. Given the current structure of our studio deal and the flexibility that the credit line provides, we should be able to finance all our upcoming productions."
Mutual Film Company has worked with its trio of international partners on a number of films including Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys, a remake of The Jackal, Milos Forman's Man On The Moon and, most recently, Curtis Hanson's Wonder Boys. On occasion projects that it has developed in-house have ended up being fully financed through the Hollywood studio system, as was the case with Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (a DreamWorks/Paramount co-production) and Sony's upcoming Summer tentpole picture The Patriot starring Mel Gibson, which also involved Centropolis.
All three foreign partners enthused over the new arrangement through statements issued on Monday night. And so did Joe Wolf of Union Bank of California who characterised the credit line as "a unique arrangement which allows [Mutual and its overseas partners] the flexibility to transact with the various studios with which they have dealt in the past, while at the same time tailoring the line to meet their needs as distributors."