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Warner Bros. strikes financing deal with Dune, Ratner

Warner Bros.MoviesSandra BullockNBCUniversalAvatar (movie)Life of Pi (movie)

Warner Bros. Pictures has struck a film financing deal with RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC, a new entity formed by Dune Entertainnment's Steven Mnuchin and RatPac Entertainment, the film finance vehicle of filmmaker Brett Ratner and Australian businessman James Packer.

The four-year co-financing deal is valued at about $450 million, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter who was not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.

It will cover as many as 75 titles from Burbank-based Warner Bros. and is effective immediately, Warner Bros. announced Monday afternoon. 

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The first picture covered by the new pact is the George Clooney-Sandra Bullock drama "Gravity," which will be released Friday.

“This agreement gives us increased strength and flexibility in the motion picture division and an even greater ability to manage risk as we continue to produce high-quality filmed entertainment for the global audience," said Kevin Tsujihara, chief executive of Warner Bros., in a statement.

The new financing deal covers films from all genres and all budgets, including tentpole pictures. 

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The Times reported on July 11 that Warner Bros. and Dune were negotiating to close a new financing arrangement for the studio’s movie slate that would be worth more than $400 million.

Dune, which is headed by Mnuchin, the founder of OneWest Bank Group LLC,  previously had a financing deal with Fox Filmed Entertainment. Dune has financed such movies as "Avatar" and "Life of Pi."

“Warner Bros. Pictures has an incredible track record of success with the most valuable franchise properties, the best relationships in the creative community and an extremely talented executive team,” said Mnuchin in a statement.  

The new financing arrangement is a key deal for Warner Bros., a division of Time Warner Inc., and Hollywood's largest movie studio. In July, WB's longtime partner Legendary Entertainment left the lot and struck a production, co-financing and distribution deal with rival Universal Pictures.

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Legendary, the film production company behind the "Man of Steel" and "The Dark Knight Rises" hits had called Warner Bros. home since 2005 and also had a successful financing pact with the studio. 

RatPac's Ratner directed the "Rush Hour" trilogy and is making "Hercules: The Thracian Wars" for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Paramount Pictures. Packer is the chairman of Crown Ltd., a hospitality and entertainment company based in Melbourne.

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