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Reliance Blinks at Funding $40M ‘Crossbones’ With NBC (Exclusive)

NBC budgeted 10 episodes of the pirate show "Crossbones" at $40 million, but Reliance, set to pay $30 million, wants to reduce its commitment

Indian media giant Reliance has teamed up with NBC to finance one of the broadcast network’s new shows, a 10-episode pirate adventure series titled "Crossbones," but is backing off its $40 million production cost, an individual close to the project has told TheWrap.

Through its newly-formed independent studio Georgeville Television, Reliance agreed to finance three-quarters, or $30 million, of “Crossbones,” a tale of pirates from 18th century England based on Colin Woodard’s “The Republic of Pirates,” according to three individuals close to the project. NBC agreed to finance the remaining $10 million.

But Reliance, whose other Hollywood investments have offered mixed to weak returns, has been rethinking its financial commitment and is seeking to reduce it by nearly half, one of those individuals said.

Also read: Three Years In, Reliance Sees Little Payback From Its Hollywood Gamble

“Everybody agreed on a $40 million budget. And everyone agreed it was (split) 10 and 30,” said the individual. “They are renegotiating. The question is where will it end.”

Georgeville CEO Marc Rosen declined to comment for this story. NBC also declined to comment, as did producer Walter Parkes. One executive close to the negotiations said the discussions were still ongoing and at a delicate stage. An NBC executive said the deal was complete, and Reliance had not changed its role.

The show storyline follows an undercover assassin sent to a pirate state led by Blackbeard, the infamous pirate. According to NBC, It is expected to start shooting in Puerto Rico next spring. It does not yet have an air date. 

NBC chief Bob Greenblatt worked with outside financiers when he was at Showtime for series such as "The Tudors," and while the practice is common in film, it is unusual for broadcast television.

Reliance has loomed large on the entertainment landscape for the past few years, investing hundreds of millions of dollars in DreamWorks to uncertain profits and placing millions into talent deals by CAA that have not yielded any films.

Reliance agreed to give DreamWorks an additional $200 million in April, but the new deal calls for the studio to make fewer films.

Also read: DreamWorks, Reliance Extend Financing Deal, But Studio Will Make Fewer Movies

Reliance also bought a majority stake in IM Global, a foreign sales company that has recently moved into movie production. Its most recent release, "Dredd," a 3D remake of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone movie, was a box office flop, costing $50 million to produce and so far taking in $23 million worldwide including $13 million domestically.

Georgeville Television launched in May with support form Motion Picture Capital, a London-based company backed by Reliance.

Georgeville, run by former Heyday Films executive Marc Rosen, is the studio behind “Crossbones,” a show thought up by “Luther” creator Neil Cross and produced by Parkes and Laurie MacDonald.

While Georgeville is still involved and has an offer out for the lead role, its financial commitment remains a matter of disagreement. 

For the Record: A previous version of this story included "Spartacus" as a show Bob Greenblatt worked on at Showtime. "Spartacus," though financed in part by outside money, is a Starz show.