Robert Simonds, a movie producer, and TPG Capital will start a U.S. film studio with Hony Capital Ltd., a Chinese private-equity firm, and producer Gigi Pritzker which will invest more than $1 billion over five years.
The studio will finance, produce and self-distribute eight to 10 “star-driven” theatrical films for global markets each year, the partners said in a statement today. The studio has completed debt and equity financing today and has commitments for distribution, the statement also said.
Hony Capital is the anchor investor for the business, and has agreed a strategic partnership for film and television production with SMG Pictures, the statement said. Additional equity and debt are provided by the business interests of Pritzker, chief executive officer of OddLot Entertainment.
The studio is being created as Hollywood looks to build on a strong start to the year, helped by “The Lego Movie” from Warner Bros. and the buddy cop comedy “Ride Along,” featuring Kevin Hart, from Comcast Corp. (CMCSA)’s Universal Pictures. Hollywood and the cinema chains posted annual sales of $10.9 billion last year, an all-time high.
Simonds will serve as chairman and CEO of the new studio and management will include Chief Operating Officer Thomas McGrath, former COO of Viacom Entertainment, the statement said.
“Star-driven, mid-budget films are an underserved market and with our proven track record in this area, we are uniquely positioned to successfully partner with traditional distributors in North America, expand in the vast Chinese market, and capitalize on new, still developing digital channels,” Simonds said in the statement.