Hollywood Eyes Anschutz

Major movie studios have reportedly set their sights on buying part of Philip Anschutz’s family-oriented movie company, Walden Media.

Anschutz Film Group CEO David Weil recently told Forbes magazine that Hollywood interest in Walden had gone beyond “the casual-discussion phase.” But he didn’t specify which studios were interested or how much a deal would be worth.

Anschutz’s foray into the movie biz began with the bomb “Around the World in 80 Days” in 2000, but Walden is said to be a hot commodity today since the success of its “Chronicles of Narnia” movie, which grossed $739 million worldwide, according to the Denver Business Journal. The only movie to gross more than that in 2005 was the latest “Star Wars” installment.

The billionaire also had a hit with “Ray,” which has grossed a reported $124 million worldwide. Upcoming projects include “The Giver” and “Nim’s Island.” Walden is also committed to turning the “Biblionauts” comic book into a movie, the paper said.

A partial sale would solidify Anschutz’s reputation in the movie business and lead to millions more in capital for Walden, movie-industry experts told the Journal.

Other recent studio transactions have been worth millions and even billions. Disney’s purchase of Pixar Animation Studios cost a reported $7.4 billion, with Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.’s acquisition of Artisan Entertainment costing a reported $210 million.

Studio partnerships have become more common as production costs have risen. Hollywood movies cost an average of $70 million to produce, according to Business Week magazine.

Sources told the paper that a partial sale would not change Walden’s family-friendly focus.