After years of making other studios' movies, Village Roadshow wants homegrown hits, too

Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law star in Guy Ritchie's "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword."

Australian film company Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, known for co-financing and co-producing movies such as "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "American Sniper," is looking to develop movies in-house.

The shift is part of a broader strategic plan for Village Roadshow, which has sold a controlling stake to media-focused asset manager Vine Alternative Investments and private equity firm Falcon Investment Advisors, the company said Wednesday.


Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Village Roadshow hopes the capital from the transaction will allow it to better adapt to the changing entertainment market, in which the big screen is facing increasing competition from television and online media.

Melbourne-based Village Roadshow will use some of the investment to buy scripts and intellectual property in the hopes of generating franchises and other box office hits.

Of the six to 10 movies it makes each year, the company now plans to produce two homegrown films. It has not announced its first homemade movie.

The company will continue to make and finance movies for studios such as Warner Bros., its main Hollywood partner. But it is betting that making its own pictures will help the company adapt to increasingly uncertain prospects at the box office.

"It allows us to be a little bit more masters of our own destiny," said Bruce Berman, chairman and chief executive of Village Roadshow's filmmaking unit. "We feel uniquely qualified to become the creator of some of those projects."

The company also plans to adapt to the shifting entertainment landscape by expanding its business into television shows and digital video, Village Roadshow said.

Village Roadshow's movies have had a rocky run at the box office lately. Recent disappointments include Warner Bros.'s aging bank robber comedy "Going in Style" (though it is expected to be profitable) and Sony's space drama "Passengers."

The company enjoyed a major success in 2016 with the Clint Eastwood-directed hit "Sully."

Its upcoming gambles include Warner’s big budget summer epic “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” and Steven Spielberg’s science fiction flick “Ready Player One.” The company is also working on “Ocean’s Eight,” a female-focused spin-off of the “Ocean’s” caper franchise.

Village Roadshow has been making movies for Warner Bros. since 1997. The companies extended the pact in 2012 to run through the end of this year, and it's now set to continue through at least 2019.

"I think our track record has shown we have a very successful business partnering with the studios," said Village Roadshow Entertainment CEO Greg Basser, while adding, "it's best for us and our partners to be initiating projects ourselves."

The latest deal comes less than two years after a $480-million recapitalization in which Village Roadshow took on $325 million in funding from such investors as Vine and Falcon. New York-based Vine, which first invested in Village Roadshow in 2015, has a significant entertainment portfolio that includes investments in Alcon, Legendary Pictures and EuropaCorp.

As part of the deal, Vine CEO Jim Moore has become chairman of Village Roadshow Entertainment Group. Basser remains CEO of Village Roadshow Entertainment, while Berman continues to lead the company's film arm.

Twitter: @rfaughnder