Wagner and Cuban Pursuing Landmark Deal for Indie Cinema Circuit
by Eugene Hernandez
A deal due to be announced today (Wednesday) will establish a major new player in the independent film business. Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban of 2929 Entertainment are acquiring Landmark Theaters according to reports this week, giving the investors a 185 screen art-house chain to go with their other entertainment assets.
"We now have ability to make a movie, put it on a TV network and put in movie theaters," Wagner told Reuters on Tuesday. "It gives us the ability to control our own destiny."
While a Landmark Theaters rep offered a "no comment" late Tuesday, indieWIRE reached 2929's Todd Wagner early today confirming the deal. Wagner told indieWIRE that he and Cuban will each own 50% of the theater chain.
Worth watching will be how Wagner and Cuban handle their stake in independent film distributor Magnolia Pictures which owns theaters that compete with Landmark in a few markets. Landmark's key executives including Paul Richardson and Bert Manzari are expected to remain with the company, with Wagner overseeing the venture.
"We don't want to mess with anything that Paul and Bert have built up," Wagner told Variety. "But the part that we're very upfront about is that we're vertically integrated now, (and) to me that was the one missing thing at Landmark."
Wagner and Cuban are best known as the founders of Broadcast.com, a leading dotcom that they sold to Yahoo! as part of a multi-billion dollar deal. 2929 Entertainment, with offices in Dallas and Los Angeles, owns Rysher Entertainment and is finishing production on the Lions Gate film "Godsend." The company also produces "Star Search."
Landmark Theaters is the leading art-house circuit in the United States, with 54 theaters offering 185 screens in a total of 14 cities. The chain is in the process of building a number of additional screens in the U.S. Landmark was founded in 1974, and acquired by Silver Cinemas in 1998. Oaktree Capital acquired the company in 2001 from the bankrupt parent, Silver.