Universal to distribute 20 films from MRC

May 27, 2010 6:04:52 PM PDT
Universal Pictures said Thursday it will distribute up to 20 films from production company Media Rights Capital over five years starting in 2011.

The two companies previously collaborated on "Bruno," the comedy starring Sacha Baron Cohen, and have two more movies in the pipeline before this new deal kicks in, including the Matt Damon sci-fi romance, "The Adjustment Bureau."

Under the new arrangement, Universal will pay for film prints and marketing and receive a small percentage of the box office sales after recouping those costs.

Previously, Universal paid for part of the production on top of film prints and marketing, but kept a greater portion of the movie's sales after recouping costs.

MRC pulls together film financing deals by securing A-list talent and sharing ownership of the project with them. It makes movies in the $20 million to $75 million budget range and is backed by investors such as Goldman Sachs, AT&T Inc., and WPP Group PLC.

"This deal with Universal gives us another choice and tool for distribution of our artists' films," Modi Wiczyk, co-chief executive of MRC, said Thursday in an interview.

MRC still has the option to distribute films in the previous fashion and with other studios, Wiczyk said.

The deal will add to the 14 to 16 Universal-produced movies, plus up to four movies from Rogue Pictures that the studio aims to release each year.

In a statement, Universal Pictures Chairman Adam Fogelson said the deal will augment the current film slate, "bringing more value to Universal."

Universal is a division of NBC Universal, which is being bought by Comcast Corp. from General Electric Co. The transaction is being reviewed by the federal government but is expected to close by the end of the year.