UK film financier Myles Nestel has parted ways with Oceana Media Finance to form the Los Angeles-based financing and production outfit Merlina Entertainment.
Nestel plans to make up to three films a year budgeted in the $15m-$30m range and said he was already sizing up eight projects from producers with whom he has previously collaborated.
Merlina is backed by private equity and will nurture product from development through to completion with an eye on commercial fare. Nestel said he expected to announce initial titles in the coming months.
He added that the split from Oceana was amicable and motivated by a desire to adapt to the times and “be more involved with underlying rights.”
“It was time to evolve,” Nestel said. “Everyone’s trying to figure out where they are in the world and I thought that given my access to high-net-worth individuals this would be an interesting way to branch out.
“I had a great time at Oceana and now it’s time for something new. It’s important in today’s market to focus on commercial, genre-specific films that audiences want to go and see.”
It is understood that Oceana, the public company Nestel formed in 2007 backed by a $100m investment from American Capital Strategies (ACS), will continue to operate under ACS at least until the initial slate of five films is complete.
To date none of the five has been released in North America although Spread, David Mackenzie’s gigolo romp starring Ashton Kutcher that Anchor Bay acquired after Sundance, is due to open in August. The Greatest, another Sundance premiere, was bought by the beleaguered Senator Distribution.
Thus far domestic distributors have not moved on the remaining three titles. Tell-Tale, Michael Cuesta’s horror fable inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, premiered in Tribeca, while the final two titles have not screened yet. 13 is Gela Babluani’s remake of his French-language thriller 13 Tzameti and stars Jason Statham, and the legal drama Betty Anne Waters stars Hilary Swank.