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by Jay A. Fernandez
May 15, 2012 12:36 PM
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The Five Most Interesting New Companies With Money at the Cannes Market, and How They Want to Spend It

GOOD UNIVERSE

Key execs: Joe Drake and Nathan Kahane

Why you know them: Drake was motion picture group president at Lionsgate; Kahane was president of Mandate Pictures, which he and Drake co-founded in 2003.

"Our company made him recall a line from an E.E. Cummings poem that reads, ‘There’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go!’"
What does the name of the company mean, and how does it define your approach to filmmaking and film-funding?

“The name was actually recommended to us years ago by Zach Helm, our friend and collaborator on ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ and ‘Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.’ Our company made him recall a line from an E.E. Cummings poem that reads, ‘There’s a hell of a good universe next door; let’s go!’ We take great pride in supporting filmmakers, encouraging creativity and generating new ideas.”

What are you looking to do in Cannes?

“We are launching our global sales company with our first two films, ‘Oldboy’ and ‘Last Vegas.’  Beyond licensing the rights to these films everywhere in the world, we will also be meeting with new and old international distribution partners.”

How much money do you have to work with?

“We have the infrastructure and resources to develop, package, produce and fully finance our movies.”

How many films do you plan to get involved in per year? 

“We have a full slate of active projects in development. Depending on the material and the creative process, we will potentially produce and finance approximately four to five films a year.”

Do you intend to focus solely on English-language pics?

“On the production side we will predominantly handle English-language films. From a remake perspective, and on the sales side, we look for great stories in any language.”

What makes your company different from the dozen other new financing companies entering Cannes this year?

“We have seen phenomenal success in our previous endeavors at both Lionsgate and Mandate and are thrilled to realize it again with the new company by building on our collective experiences and relationships. We already have a full development slate and a seasoned team in place with a track record of successfully building a profitable film slate based on singular, original voices with universal stories to tell like ‘Juno’ and ‘Hope Springs.’ Through our decade-long partnership we have built a substantial genre brand with Ghost House Pictures that has proven its ability to levitate big franchises like ‘The Grudge,’ as well as what Joe accomplished at Lionsgate with ‘The Hunger Games’ franchise. This is the key focus of our new entity — to produce and finance big multi-quadrant properties with true franchise potential. We are excited to be expanding our already successful business model and bring breakout original material into the global marketplace.”

Projects moving into or in production.

The remake of the South Korean film “Oldboy,” with Spike Lee directing and Josh Brolin, Lizzie Olsen and Sharlto Copley starring; the Jon Turteltaub-directed comedy “Last Vegas” at CBS Films, with Michael Douglas and Robert De Niro starring. Both films start production in the fall.

Name an indie movie that you would have made.

“Black Swan” and “Little Miss Sunshine.”

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