Producer Rudy Langlais ("The Hurricane," "Sugar Hill") and partners, entrepreneur Valmiki Kempadoo, producer Don Allan and veteran film executive Neil Sacker have closed an unprecedented equity financing agreement with the government of the Antigua that will see $125 million invested in the launch of a long-term commitment to film production in the Caribbean nation, starting with an initial slate of five feature films.
The agreement was announced today in Toronto at the international film festival.
The deal comes through the newly created venture, Golden Island Filmworks, an independent feature film finance and production entity run by Rudy Langlais, and his partners Sacker, Kempadoo and Allan.
The first five feature films, individually budgeted between $20 million and $85 million, against a cumulative budget of $250 million, will be produced through Golden Islands Filmworks in collaboration with the government of Antigua and Barbuda, headed by Prime Minister, the Honorable Gaston A. Browne.
Through this venture, Antigua aims to establish itself as the center for film production in the Caribbean. A portion of all films on this slate will be shot in Antigua, which will inject tens of millions of dollars back into the local economy and foster employment and growth.
The arrangement is a first-of-its-kind film financing model that uses funds generated by the Antigua Citizenship Investment Program. Funds collected from the highly sought after citizenship program will be invested into the $125 million film slate.
Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador at Large His Excellency Dr. Joseph (Joey) John, who for eight years had been enticing Rudy Langlais to make films in the Caribbean, was instrumental in structuring the Antigua-based venture and will continue to work on all components and phases of development and production associated with the film slate.
Prime Minister Browne said: "Welcome to the start of this new day in the history of my nation, the Caribbean and worldwide cinema – the further transformation of Antigua and Barbuda as the economic powerhouse of the Caribbean through the power and art of film. We are welcoming the leading directors, actors and filmmaking technicians of the world to Antigua and they are coming to create exciting films that capture the beauty, mystery, history and complexity of our country, our history, our people."
Rudy Langlais said, "My partners and I had a dream more than 10 years ago, that the Caribbean, which has produced brilliant statesmen like Alexander Hamilton, Nobel Prize-winning poets and novelists, Walcott and Naipaul, legendary athletes like Sobers and Richards and Bolt, and perhaps the world’s greatest cultural icon in Bob Marley, should add its "voice" now to filmmaking. We have wanted to join our colleagues around the world to share our stories and join in telling stories together. Now that time is here. Exciting films will come of this collaboration."
Commented John, "Of all the projects that I have had the privilege of bringing to Antigua, this project has the potential to create the biggest impact on both the economy and the social transformation of Antigua. It brings a whole new industry into Antigua that will affect tourism and culture."
Said Sacker, "It is an honor for me to be partnered with Rudy, for whom I have tremendous respect and friendship, and with Val and Don who were instrumental in putting this groundbreaking deal together. We are looking forward to making this venture a success for the government of Antigua and are committed to the highest creative and business standards for this incredible slate of films – each of which are distinctive and iconic stories that, at the same time, are marketable to the largest possible audience from Gen Z to Millennials to Baby-boomers to the older generations."
Films on the initial slate include "Rebels" which is described as a journey through the life and musical times of Bob Marley, prospecting the early career of the musical icon and unearthing an unknown side of the man and his music. Never before revealed stories and music will show a side of the legend that few would ever imagine.
Golden Island Filmworks has assembled a rich tapestry through its acquisition of the life stories of the men who signed, developed and produced Bob Marley’s music. The company has also secured the rights to the never-before-released JAD Records catalogue of Marley music to tell this story of the unknown Bob Marley.
There is also the adaptation of the "Nick Carter: Killmaster" book series – the longest-running franchise in U.S. book publishing history, producing 261 books over 26 years and selling more than 30 million copies.
The books developed a fan base of millions and launched the careers of a generation of thriller writers, including Martin Cruz Smith, who went on to write Gorky Park and Havana Bay becoming one of the top thriller writers of the past 30 years.
"Nick Carter: The Judas Conspiracy" is set between Bond and Bourne — and firmly in the world of contemporary, cutting-edge cyber-espionage, being fought out in cyberspace with viruses that destroy nuclear centrifuges and bring down banking and energy systems.
Details on expected filming and premiere dates of both projects (and what can be expected from the rest of the slate) are forthcoming.