Gigi Pritzker's Billion Dollar Studio
March 12, 2014 by Mike McNamara
From Million Dollar Quartet to Billion Dollar Studio.
This week, billionaire Chicagoan Gigi Pritzker (who is also the producer of the long-running "Million Dollar Quartet" show at the Apollo Theater) announced that she will form a new movie studio with fellow producer Robert Simonds, private-equity firm TPG Capital and China’s Hony Capital, with an ambitious plan to release as many as ten films a year. Meanwhile, the studio expects to invest over $1 billion in filmmaking over the next five years.
“I am confident in Bob's vision for this company and the partnership he has assembled,” Pritzker said in a news release. “I look forward to seeing it thrive. As both a filmmaker and an investor, I look forward to finding strategic opportunities to work with him on upcoming projects.”
Simonds added, “The seismic shifts in the entertainment industry have produced exciting new opportunities in content, production and distribution. Together with our partners, we are creating a studio with the flexibility, global scale, and experience required to seize this opportunity.”
Simonds, whose recent movies include remakes of CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN and THE PINK PANTHER, continued, “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.”
In addition to the focus on mid-budget films (which would fall into the $40-50 million range), there are several unique elements to this deal, namely the involvement of Chinese capital. “This is the first investment a Chinese company has made into a Hollywood studio; and it is a perfect example of how investors bring in various but unique resources to create a new-age studio,” said John Zhao, CEO of Hony Capital. “Together with its strategic partners like SMG and PPTV, Hony Capital will bring in the best mix of China’s market resources to help Bob and his veteran team execute the first global-market focused, vertically-integrated studio that Hollywood has seen in a decade.”
Also unique is the studio's ambitions to forego the traditional distribution process in favor of what it described as “unprecedented direct distribution agreements” with exhibitors AMC Theatres, Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark and Carmike.
Information regarding location of said studio/production company headquarters should be forthcoming. More on this studio and their upcoming features as it unfolds, we'll keep you posted!
In the meantime, Pritzker's latest feature DRAFT DAY (through her production company OddLot, which will be kept separate from the new studio) starring Kevin Costner and Denis Leary, releases nationwide April 11th. DRAFT DAY was filmed in and around Cleveland, Ohio; you can check out the trailer here.
Mike McNamara is the Co-Founder of The Midwest Independent Film Festival, www.midwestfilm.org. Mike pays his rent as an actor in Chicago in theatre, commercials, television and film. More from Mac at www.findmac.com.