Montreal, Canada-based Ciné-Groupe and Telescene Film Group are forming a joint-venture development, production and distribution company for live-action programming. Ciné-Groupe will have 80% ownership of the as-yet-unnamed production company, which it has agreed to finance for a period of at least two years.
Telescene’s status under court-ordered bankruptcy protection does not change, and the company must obtain the consent of its secured creditors, ‘a hurdle to be crossed,’ says Errol Glasser, a director with the company.
Glasser says the deal with Ciné-Groupe ‘provides a mechanism so that we can continue exploiting all the development work that has been done. All the costs will be borne by the joint venture and Ciné-Groupe.’
Telescene continues to exist under the new deal, but only in the form of its estimated 450 half-hour library. The new company will distribute the TFG catalog, and has first refusal to buy the library outright. Subject to certain exceptions, Ciné-Groupe-controlled projects in development will be transferred to the joint venture.
Telescene will cease all production once the 22-hour action-adventure co-pro Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Lost World wraps in Australia. Episode 22 was shooting at press time, with post expected to wrap within two months.
The joint venture’s initial production, slated for as early as this month, will be the third season (21 half hours) of Big Wolf on Campus, bringing total production to the 65-episode syndication mark. The sitcom currently airs on Fox Family in the U.S., YTV in Canada and on Vrak.TV in the French-Canadian market.
The only personnel confirmed with the new company at this point are Robin Spry, Telescene’s president and CEO, and Marie-Claude Beauchamp, Ciné-Groupe’s executive VP of development and production financing.
Ciné-Groupe is headed by president and CEO Jacques Pettigrew. Partners and shareholders include Vancouver, Canada-based Lions Gate Entertainment and Fox Family Worldwide. Germany’s Tele-Munchen also holds an equity interest in Ciné-Groupe.