Dan Snyder's "Valkyrie"

Tom Heath covers Washington's business community.


I was perusing the competition's news pages on Sunday and noticed a full-page advertisement for Tom Cruise's new film, the long-awaited "Valkyrie," which opens in December.

Studios usually open their big blockbusters during the early summer or during the holiday Season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I recalled that Washington Redskins' majority owner Daniel M. Snyder and some of his business partners were involved in the film, so I looked at the credits listed in the ad and lo and behold, there it was.

Daniel M. Snyder, Dwight C. Schar and Mark Shapiro are listed as executive producers. It means they have invested in the film, which is based on the true story about a group of German military officers who plotted to kill Hitler toward the end of World War II.

Shapiro is chief executive of Six Flags Inc., the amusement park company whose board is chaired by Snyder. Snyder has an investment fund that holds a stake in Six Flags and hired Shapiro to run the company. Schar, chairman of NVR, the Virginia-based home builder, owns a chunk of the Redskins.

Snyder, Shapiro and Schar working in a partnership called First and Goal, in 2006 made a two-year deal with Cruise's production company to pay $3 million to $10 million a year for the opportunity to finance Cruise's film projects.

I sought their thoughts on the deal but we have yet to connect. So I asked a local businessman, Norman Dreyfuss, who has invested in a few, relatively small-budget independent films, what it means to be an executive producer.

"It usually means they put up the money, either some or all of it," said Dreyfuss, whose films have had budgets of $2 million or so, which is likely a fraction of Valkyrie.

"Those guys [Snyder, et al.] have money, so my guess is they put up the money or used an investment vehicle or hedge fund."

The advertisement says United Artists and MGM studios are also involved, so Dreyfuss said it could be that Snyder and his fellow investors partnered with the studios.

Cruise resurrected the legendary UA with his production partner, Paula Wagner, and UA has a business relationship with MGM, according to published reports.

"When you partner with a studio, there could be all kinds of profit splits. It sometimes takes two or three years before you know how the movie really did because its revenues are a combination of DVD sales, video on demand, cable, box office and foreign market sales."

"You need to be successful in other ventures before you get into movies," said Dreyfuss. "The Redskins appear to be pretty successful."

There could be a big windfall coming Snyder's way. Or maybe not.

By Tom Heath  |  November 3, 2008; 12:56 PM ET  | Category:  Dan Snyder , Value Added
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Comments

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Once again, Tom, I learned something from reading your blog.
Now we know why most movies nowadays list 3,4 or 5 "executive producers" - they pay for the credit.

Has Tom Cruise been able to convert Snyder to Scientology yet?

Posted by: JoeBagadonuts | November 3, 2008 6:46 PM

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