Producer Robert Simonds has partnered with the private equity giant TPG and China’s Hony Capital to create a new studio project that will supposedly produce 10-15 mid-range movies each year. Each of these 10 star-studded films will have a production budget of about $40 million.
According to Bob Simonds, the start-up’s goal is to invest as much as $1B dollars in movie projects over the next five years. The parties have not revealed the name of the project yet.
Robert Simonds has produced Happy Gilmore and Steve Martin’s reboot of The Pink Panther. He believes that studios have moved the business towards opening up greater scope for smaller but talented mid-range projects, with compelling content.
Bob Simonds has also said that star-driven, mid-budget films are an underserved market and with their proven track record in that area, they are in a position to make successful partnerships with the older distributors of North America, venture into the Chinese market and capitalize on new, still developing channels.
The former COO of Viacom Entertainment Thomas McGrath, Former CEO of Crest Animation Noah Fogelson, and Sophie Watts have been recruited into Robert Simonds team as Chief Operating Officer, EVP Corporate Development and General Counsel, and EVP Content respectively. The company will be making more recruitments shortly.
According to Bob Simonds,’ the reason why he partnered with China’s Hony Capital is not just for its abundant capital, almost $7 billion under management, but because the company also has close ties with the Shanghai Media Group, one of the largest entertainment companies in China. SMG has announced a partnership with Disney to co-develop films for the booming Chinese market.
CEO of Hony, John Zhao, has said that this is the first investment a Chinese company has made into a Hollywood studio, and it serves as a perfect example of how investors bring in unique resources to create a new age studio. He adds that together with its strategic partners like SMG and PPTV (a Chinese video company), Hony Capital will bring the best of China’s resources to help Bob Simonds and his team to create the first global, vertically integrated studio in Hollywood.
The new studio has also agreed upon direct distribution rights with North America’s top theatre chains, including AMC Theatres, Regal Entertainment Group, Cinemark, and Carmike. The team is to make new announcements regarding further distribution deals concerning the pay-TV window and home entertainment.
As of now, the board members of the company include: Bill McGlashan, Robert Simonds, Zhao, David Bonderman (founding partner of TPG), Frank Biondi (former CEO of Viacom and former CEO of Universal Studios), Tony Vinciquerra (former CEO of Fox Networks Group), Yang Wenhong (director of film and television at Shanghai Media Group), and veteran producer Gigi Pritzker (founder of OddLot Entertainment).