Joe Roth's eagerly-awaited film and internet production outfit, to be henceforth known as Revolution Studios, has finally hit the ground with an initial $3bn in financing and distribution commitments from three key investment partners who will collectively control own around a quarter of the company.
Roth's Revolution - not to be confused with the London-based Revolution Films spearheaded by Michael Winterbottom and Andrew Eaton - is being backed by Sony Pictures Entertainment, Starz Encore Group and Fox Entertainment Group. This trio has agreed to finance and distribute a minimum of 36 films from Roth over the next six years and have each taken minority equity stakes in Revolution Studios.
Sony, which is contributing a reported $75m in equity financing into Revolution, will distribute the films theatrically and on home video in North America in return for an unspecified portion of the budget. Sony also has international distribution rights in all media apart from five territories: Germany, where Senator Films has the films; Japan, where Toho-Towa has signed on to handle theatrical and Pony Canyon has home video rights; and Scandinavia, Portugal and Israel where in each case distribution deals are still being finalised.
The Senator and Toho-Towa/Pony Canyon deals were sealed on Roth's behalf by Spyglass Entertainment. The Japanese deal split between two companies in order to maximize revenues echoes the arrangement that Spyglass struck with the same companies on its own films in that territory.
Starz Encore will have domestic pay-TV and subscription video-on-demand rights to films from Revolution Studios and will also play the films on its 12-channel Super Pak of digital, commercial-free movie channels as part of an arrangement that involves an equity investment of around $150m - the largest of the three backers. The supply of Revolution movies comes in addition to Starz Encore's recently-signed output deal with Sony Pictures.
Fox, where Roth was once studio chief before becoming chairman of Walt Disney Studios, has acquired all other US television rights in a deal that breaks from the normal tradition of networks acquiring Hollywood films after their theatrical release under a pricing formula linked to box office performance. Fox, whose equity investment was estimated at $25m, will air Revolution's output across the Fox Network and the Fox Cable Networks and will also put the films into syndication.
Also joining Revolution as equity partners will be Rob Moore and Todd Garner, two executives that will help manage the company for Roth. Moore was previously executive vice president operations & finance for Walt Disney Studios; Garner was co-president of Walt Disney Motion Picture Group.
Roth said in a statement that Revolution has already gathered "about 25 properties already in development," although the only known project to have been greenlit so far is Tomcats, which started shooting this week with Jerry O'Connell, Shannon Elizabeth and Jake Busey heading the cast.
Revolution already has relationships in place with Julia Roberts and her Shoelace Productions, as well as with Adam Sandler and the Happy Madison Company he runs with producer Jack Giarraputo.
Roth's company also has a controlling interest in Mediatrip.com which will serve as the in-house internet arm of Revolution Studios both for the promotion of the films and the development of on-line comedy properties for off-line exploitation in movies and television. John Hegeman, former head of marketing for Artisan Entertainment, where he made a name for himself with the seminal release of The Blair Witch Project, will consult for Revolution on the internet marketing of its films.
Distant Corners Entertainment Group, an on-line horror, sci-fi and fantasy media company founded by Hegeman and Roth, will remain outside Revolution Studios although Revolution will have first crack at turning any on-line properties into movies and TV programming.