Germany's Senator Film has become the first international distributor to sign up to the highly anticipated package of studio-level films being put together by former Disney chief Joe Roth.
The five-year deal initially gives Senator all media rights in all German-speaking territories. It is promised a minimum of six films per year with budgets in the $10m-$100m range. Superstar Julia Roberts has a non-exclusive deal with Roth to star in three of the films over the next five years.
The deal was done on Roth's behalf by Gary Barber of Spyglass Entertainment with Senator CEO Hanno Huth and Roman Paul, Senator's director of acquisitions and project development. Spyglass is representing the Roth films in continental Europe and Japan.
The Senator deal appears to confirm that Spyglass will be able to maximise revenues in Europe by selling territories individually, rather than going for one of the currently fashionable pan-European deals. The UK, however, is expected to be sold as part of a multi-territory package with a major studio.
Roth's unnamed company is understood to be close to signing a studio deal for North American theatrical rights. Sony Pictures Entertainment ' one of the few remaining buyer studios ' is the favourite. A lucrative, separate arrangement is expected to be signed for network TV and cable rights.
The first film to be delivered under the deal will be $10m-$20m comedy Tomcats, which stars Jerry O'Connell and goes into production next month.
Following recent expansion into new media and exhibition through the acquisition of a 25.1% stake in CinemaxX, Senator is now set to be renamed Senator Entertainment.