In its most significant financing, production and distribution deal to date, Warner Bros. Monday announced that it has teamed with Europe's leading entertainment group, CANAL+, to finance or co-finance and distribute from four to six films per year for the next five years from a newly created film company, under the leadership of highly respected film executive and filmmaker Steven D. Reuther.
In making the announcement, Robert A. Daly and Terry Semel, chairmen and co-chief executive officers, Warner Bros. Inc., also noted that Warner Bros. will handle the worldwide distribution of all the films in all media (theatrical, television, video, etc.), with the exception of France and Germany.
Pierre Lescure, chairman and chief executive, CANAL+, emphasized that these movies represent significant assets for all the premium pay-TV channels of the CANAL+ Group. Furthermore, Lescure underlined the involvement of CANAL+ in the distribution of these features in the two main European markets: France and Germany.
"Steve is one of the most talented filmmakers we have ever had the pleasure of working with, and among a very few with whom we would entrust such a vital portion of our overall output," said Daly and Semel. "It also gives us great personal pleasure that our partner in this important deal is CANAL+. We have enjoyed a very long and mutually beneficial relationship with CANAL+ and look forward to this enhanced alliance."
Lescure said: "We are delighted to further our business with Warner Bros. and have someone of Steve Reuther's stature and talent at the head of this new venture. This agreement fits perfectly with the Group's new development strategy for film production and distribution."
Reuther's extraordinarily impressive producing credits include: "The Rainmaker," "Face Off," "Boys on the Side," "The Client," "Sommersby," "The Mambo Kings," "Under Siege," "Pretty Woman" and "Dirty Dancing." For the past four years, he also served as president and chief executive officer for Constellation Films, and previously served as president of production for New Regency.
Jim Miller, newly named president, Warner Bros. Worldwide Theatrical Business Operations, who was in charge of putting together the deal, said of Reuther: "Steve has one of the most brilliant track records as a film executive and as a filmmaker in the industry. He has the breadth and depth of experience shared by few. He understands every single aspect of filmmaking. He loves films, loves the process, has great business and creative instincts and has great relationships with talent.
"Steve lives and breathes film. He has made successful films and run successful film companies. He is that rare mixture of creative filmmaker as well as astute businessman."
"This is exactly the opportunity I had dreamed of," said Reuther. "To be able to head my own company and make films with the support of the best in the business. It feels like I am returning home. Bob Daly, Terry Semel, Jim Miller and the team at Warner Bros. understand the nature of partnership. They respect and nurture relationships better than anyone in the business. The commitment to produce quality entertainment will drive the company."
"This new company will be the best-financed independent film company around today and marks the most significant commitment we have made that illustrates the strategy we invented and have perfected over the years," added Miller.
"Our formula is to maximize our capital, while minimizing our risk, by expanding our output of a broad spectrum of top-quality product from the most talented filmmakers in the world, with financing shared with sophisticated investors who not only know the film business, but also know us and with whom we share other business dealings."
"Message in a Bottle," produced by Tig Productions and DiNovi Pictures, will be the first film co-financed by Warner Bros. and the new company. The romantic drama stars Kevin Costner and Robin Wright Penn. The film, produced by Denise DiNovi, Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson, will be directed by Luis Mandoki from a screenplay by Gerald DiPego based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks (which will be published in April by Warner Books). David Lester serves as executive producer.
Warner Bros., a Time Warner Entertainment company, is a world leader in the creation, production, distribution and marketing of all forms of entertainment and their attendant businesses from theatrical motion pictures to television, home video, animation, product licensing, retail stores, theaters and theme parks.
CANAL+ is Europe's leading pay-television company with world-class expertise both in premium and thematic channels, programming and distribution, and is at the forefront of digital platforms with operations in France, Spain and Italy.
CANAL+ has also emerged as a major player in film production, the Group occupies an important position in television production and is very active in the acquisition and distribution of television programs and feature films, being the largest holder of multi-territorial audio-visual rights in Europe.