Paramount, Ellison’s Skydance Extend Co-Financing Deal

Viacom Inc.’s Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions, partners on films including “Star Trek Into Darkness,” extended their film co-financing and production agreement through 2018.

Skydance, founded by David Ellison, son of Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, will contribute $200 million to $250 million a year to co-finance and co-produce three to four major event films per year, according to a person with knowledge of the accord who sought anonymity because details aren’t public.

The pact ensures a supply of cash to Paramount as the studio, run by Chief Executive Officer Brad Grey, prepares “Star Trek” and “Mission Impossible” sequels among its films. Paramount has joined Skydance and Annapurna Pictures, founded by Ellison’s sister, Megan, on a “Terminator” reboot scheduled for June 2015, the companies said in a statement.

With the extension, Skydance keeps an option to co-finance and co-produce certain Paramount films. Paramount will have first rights to join Skydance projects as David Ellison’s company expands its own production, the companies said.

The deal reflects the growing importance of independent producers, including Legendary Entertainment and Village Roadshow Pictures, in financing major Hollywood films.

Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures last week announced a five-year co-production and financing deal with Legendary Entertainment, which leaves Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. in December. Village Roadshow has a continuing partnership with Warner that has included movies such as the “Sherlock Holmes” films starring Robert Downey Jr.

The new Paramount-Skydance agreement extends a deal that began in 2010, when Skydance raised $350 million for co-financing and co-production with Paramount. Funding included $150 million in equity and a $200 million revolving credit facility, Paramount said at the time.

The funding amount for the renewal was reported earlier today by Variety.

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