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'Decoding Deepak' heads to festival circuit

Completed docu tracks year in the life of spiritualist Chopra

 

Nala Films has completed "Decoding Deepak," a feature-length documentary film that chronicles one year in the life of spiritualist Deepak Chopra.

Nala said Monday it plans to take "Deepak," which it financed, on to the festival circuit.

The film's written, directed and produced by Deepak's son, filmmaker and journalist Gotham Chopra. It followed his father during 2010 as he travelled around the world.

Gotham Chopra and Mark Rinehart produced. Scott Carlin and Nala principals Emilio Diez Barroso and Darlene Caamano Loquet are exec producers, and Josh Sorkin co-produced.

"Working with Emilio, Scott, Darlene and the whole NALA team has been amongst the best and most rewarding experiences of my career - they give Hollywood a good name," Gotham Chopra said. "I just hope my dad agrees when he sees the finished cut, or at least doesn't kill me."

Deepak Chopra has written over 64 books published in more than 85 languages. Nala's latest projects include Spanish-language comedy "Casa De Mi Padre" and coming of age comedy "Ceremony."

Contact Dave McNary at dave.mcnary@variety.com

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‘Decoding Deepak’ Finds Partner In NALA Films

(Los Angeles, January 30, 2012) – NALA Films announced today that it has financed and produced DECODING DEEPAK, a feature-length documentary film that chronicles one year in the life of spiritualist and pop cultural icon Deepak Chopra. The film, which is written, directed and produced by Deepak’s son, filmmaker and journalist Gotham Chopra, follows Deepak as he road-trips across the world to uncover who Deepak really is, and, ultimately, who any of us really are. NALA Films plans to take the film on the festival circuit and seek the most effective way to reach what they believe to be a large worldwide audience for the film, including the millions familiar with the work of Deepak Chopra and the larger audience beyond. Gotham Chopra and Mark Rinehart serve as producers. Scott Carlin and NALA Films principals Emilio Diez Barroso and Darlene Caamano Loquet serve as executive producers, and Josh Sorkin co-produced.

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Summit investors considered major expansion before selling

Before deciding to sell the company to Lions Gate on Friday, investors in Summit Entertainment considered making a significant cash infusion that could have turned the "Twilight" studio into a much bigger entertainment player.

With the final "Twilight" movie ending this year, Summit's investors, who control about 70% of the studio, with the other 30% held by management, found themselves at a crossroads in late 2011.

"We were at a critical time in Summit’s development where either the company needed to expand into television and library acquisition and other media platforms so it was not singularly reliant on film, or take advantage of the very strong financial position the company was in [to sell]," said Jim Berk, chief executive of film production and finance company Participant Media, one of Summit's largest investors.

Berk said his firm and fellow investors, including private-equity fund operator Suhail Rizvi's Rizvi Traverse Management, were "prepared to inject more funds into the company to dramatically expand its operations."

Nala Investments chief Emilio Diez Barroso, another investor in the "Twilight" studio, said that in addition to well-known flirtations with buying Miramax films and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Summit also considered acquiring several other film libraries or international businesses to help it expand globally.

But beginning this fall, after Lions Gate's former top shareholder Carl Icahn, an opponent of management who made any acquisition very difficult, sold his stake, Summit found itself fielding purchase offers.

"Multiple folks preempted our ability to aggressively get into the marketplace to look at investments,"  Berk said.

Along with Lions Gate, other interested buyers included private-equity firm Colony Capital and a consortium of Chinese investors.

Colony, which wanted to merge Summit with its Miramax film library, ended up as the final bidder alongside Lions Gate in late 2011.

With the Lions Gate deal, Summit's investors get a payout of about $350 million in cash on top of a$200-million dividend they received early last year. They also get an equity stake said by insiders to be close to 5% in a company that combines Summit with Lions Gate's upcoming "Hunger Games" film series and its television and digital operations.

But things could have easily gone a different way.

"It's not that that the Lions Gate deal was more appealing," Diez Barroso said. "It was just the one that got to the finish line with the terms we were looking for."

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