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Cross Creek Pictures launched with backing from Louisiana money men

September 2, 2009 |  5:12 pm

What's riskier, digging for oil or investing in Hollywood?

The Louisiana-based Thompson family is about to find out. Timmy Thompson, along with brothers Bobby and Tommy, are investing tens of millions of dollars in Cross Creek Pictures, a start-up production company headed by Brian Oliver, the former principle of Arthaus Pictures and a onetime vice president of Propaganda Films. Their first release, "Delivering Gen," is a crime thriller that Oliver and Lorenzo Di Bonaventura are producing. It was written by Kurt Sutter, the creator of FX's motorcycle gang drama "Sons of Anarchy." Sutter will also direct.

Thompson, whose family runs a holding company and investment group, first got intrigued by Hollywood when his son Tyler moved to Los Angeles and persuaded his father to help fund production of "Burning Palms," which may be released later this year and features Dylan McDermott and Shannen Doherty. His holdings include off-shore businesses such as barge rentals and catering. The Thompson family also has large real estate developments in Louisiana, Alabama and Florida.

"This is no more risky than punching holes in the ground in West Texas," Timmy Thompson, 47, said in an interview. Although he would not say how much his family was ponying up in Cross Creek, the production company itself has said it would produce three to five movies and has committed to invest at least $40 million over the next 36 months.

The last few years have been very hard on smaller film companies and independent labels. Warner Bros. shut down Warner Independent Pictures and shrunk New Line Cinema. Paramount is folding Paramount Vantage and Fox closed Fox Atomic.

Thompson said that unlike other depressed markets such as real estate where "there is no demand at all," there's still a "strong demand for movies and that created an opportunity for us to come in."

-- Joe Flint