Lantern Entertainment co-presidents Andy Mitchell and Milos Brajovic announced on Wednesday that they’ve joined up with Gary Barber’s Spyglass to launch Spyglass Media Group.
The partnership, which includes Italy’s largest indie distributor Eagle Pictures and Cineworld Group — one of the world’s largest cinema chains — as strategic investors, creates an independent premium content company that comes with a majority investment from Lantern.
Headquartered in Century City, the company will be led by Barber, who will serve as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and oversee all operations.
“I am excited to partner with Andy and Milos and am grateful for the support of Eagle and Cineworld, who have shown unwavering commitment as we build this preeminent content company,” Barber said in a statement. “There could not be a better time to produce compelling and crowd-pleasing content for worldwide distribution across multiple platforms.”
With the infusion of funding from Lantern, Spyglass plans to be uniquely positioned to execute on its business plan to develop, finance and produce premium content for theatrical, network, cable and streaming platforms as well as acquire accretive assets and explore strategic opportunities, the company said in a news release.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
In July 2018, Lantern acquired the assets of The Weinstein Company out of bankruptcy for $289 million. It walked away with three unreleased films after haggling with filmmakers and producers over the rights to some of the projects, and a library of content.
Through the new venture, Spyglass will own and control all of Lantern Entertainment’s current assets, including a wealth of development projects and more than 250 film library titles, as well as scripted and unscripted television series, such as “Project Runway,” which will return home to Bravo for its 17th season when it premieres March 14.
Lantern’s library of films acquired in the TWC sale include Academy Award winners “The King’s Speech” and “The Artist;” box office hits “Inglourious Basterds,”Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Hateful Eight” and “Django Unchained” and genre franchises “Hellraiser” and “Scream.”
“The Upside,” starring Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston and Nicole Kidman was picked up as part of the acquisition as well and distributed by STXfilms. The film has grossed more than $100 million at the domestic box office.
“Gary Barber is the optimal leader and partner for this company and we are grateful to launch Spyglass with our new strategic investors at Eagle and Cineworld. Beyond his day-to-day management, Gary’s guidance and expertise will be a fundamental asset for the growth of our company,” Mitchell and Brajovic said in a joint statement.
Barber, who founded production company Spyglass Entertainment in 1998, most recently served as chairman and CEO of MGM before he was abruptly let go a year ago.
He helped lead MGM’s turn-around out of bankruptcy; restoring the studio’s prominence by revitalizing its film and television businesses; expanding its distribution footprint across traditional and digital platforms and posting successive years of profitability.
During his tenure, the James Bond franchise, produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, reached record numbers with the release of its 23rd and 24th installments of the long-running franchise for “Skyfall” and “Spectre,” becoming the highest grossing Bond films of all time. The studio also managed to revive the Rocky franchise under his watch with “Creed” and the studio’s impressive roster of releases and co-productions included the “Hobbit” trilogy, “The Magnificent Seven,” “Me Before You,” “21 Jump Street” and “22 Jump Street.”
Films produced by Spyglass Entertainment have grossed more than $5 billion in worldwide box office to date and amassed more than 34 Oscar nominations and four wins. Spyglass saw success with such films as “The Sixth Sense,” “Bruce Almighty,” “Seabiscuit,” “The Insider,” “Star Trek” and “27 Dresses,” to name a few.
Prior to Spyglass, Barber served as vice chairman and chief operating officer of Morgan Creek Productions and president of Vestron International Group.
“Eagle Pictures and Gary have teamed up on high quality projects for international distribution over the years. It is only fitting that we would expand that relationship and join forces on a strategic partnership for Spyglass,” Eagle Pictures CEO Andrea Goretti said in a statement. “With Gary’s incomparable stewardship, the company’s valuable library assets, Eagle’s strong foothold in Europe and Cineworld’s tremendous worldwide footprint, Spyglass is well-positioned to be a prominent global content supplier.”
The Spyglass senior leadership team is expected to expand, with announcements to come soon.
Moelis & Company LLC served as the exclusive financial advisor in connection with the transaction. Venable LLP acted as a legal advisor for Gary Barber and DLA Piper served as legal advisors for Lantern Entertainment.
“We are thrilled to enter into a partnership with Spyglass and strengthen our 30 year relationship with Gary,” Cineworld Group CEO Mooky Greidinger said in a statement. “We are proud to be part of this promising venture and are confident of its success.”