Copyright 2001 www.tombraiderchronicles.com

[ November 21st 2001 ]

Aggressively expanding Italian independent producer-distributor Eagle Pictures will receive a 50 million euro ($44 million) cash infusion, thanks to a pact with Interbanca that gives the merchant bank a 13.8% stake in the company.

Interbanca will provide the funds in medium-term financing to be channeled into Eagle's theatrical acquisitions and film production. The Milan-based bank also will underwrite a $9 million capital increase, making it a minority partner in Eagle.

Eagle's principal financial investor, B&S Private Equity Group, has injected $6.8 million more in capital, upping its stake in Eagle to 25.1%. Established in 1986 and long active in the TV rights and homevideo sectors, Eagle began a concentrated push last season to boost its profile and become a player in the theatrical arena.

After a modest start, the company has registered considerable success with U.S. mainstream commercial imports, scoring hits with "Chocolat," "Save the Last Dance" and "Along Came a Spider." Results of "Dance" and "Spider" have hoisted Eagle to fourth among Italo distribs for the B.O. season that kicked off in July, giving the banner a 10% market share, ahead of majors Fox, BVI and Columbia TriStar.

Upcoming releases include "Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," "Novocaine" and "Rollerball." At the Mifed film mart earlier this month, Eagle finalized acquisition of a four-title New Line package that includes "Rush Hour 2." The company is headed by brothers Ciro and Stefano Dammicco, with industry veteran Giampaolo Sodano as president. Eagle committed earlier this year to pay Ron Bass $2 million to script and produce an adaptation of Robert Mawson's novel "The Lazarus Child," which it optioned in a $1 million rights deal.

At Mifed, Eagle announced a slate of five new theatrical productions including "The White Rose," a $15 million drama set in Nazi Germany, to be directed by Joel Schumacher; and "Blackberry Wine," based on the novel by "Chocolat" author Joanne Harris.

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