James Murdoch. Picture: ALESSIA PIERDOMENICO/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES
James Murdoch. Picture: ALESSIA PIERDOMENICO/BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES

Los Angeles — James Murdoch is getting into business with Robert De Niro to help the owner of the storied Tribeca Film Festival expand.

Murdoch’s Lupa Systems led a consortium to acquire a controlling stake in Tribeca Enterprises, the companies said in a joint statement. Lupa and Attention Capital, co-founded by former Fox executive Joe Marchese, will partner with Tribeca’s management to expand the business they are  buying from investors including Madison Square Garden  and festival co-founder Craig Hatkoff.

“Our new partnership with James and Joe will bring valuable expertise as Bob and I look to scale and strategically grow Tribeca,” said Tribeca Enterprises CEO and co-founder  Jane Rosenthal, who will continue to lead management and strategic development.

The deal adds to investments by Lupa Systems, the technology and media fund founded by the younger son of billionaire Rupert Murdoch. James Murdoch left his family’s businesses after Walt Disney bought most of 21st Century Fox in 2019 for $71bn, with his older brother, Lachlan, now running the smaller Fox Corporation.

The Tribeca Film Festival, which has featured a 360-degree theatre, has also promoted new forms of storytelling, such as video games and digital short films.

“When Tribeca was founded after 9/11, they brought together a tremendous creative community to embark on mission-driven business with civic impact and support for storytellers at its core,” James Murdoch said. “It is a real privilege to partner with this talented team to enhance and grow that mission.”

Attention Capital will be a minority investor. The size of the Tribeca stake and other financial terms were not disclosed.

Growing event

De Niro, along with Rosenthal and Hatkoff, established Tribeca Enterprises in 2003, a year after the film festival first took place in Lower Manhattan as part of a drive to boost the local economy in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. The event has grown to attract about 5-million attendees and Tribeca Enterprises includes Tribeca Studios, a branded entertainment content business.

MSG paid $22.5m to buy a 50% stake in Tribeca Enterprises in 2014, with an agreement to gain majority ownership over time. The investment valued Tribeca at $45m at the time.

Attention Capital, which invests in media brands, was started by former Palantir Technologies executive Ashlyn Gentry, Nick Bell, a former Snap executive and Marchese.

Madison Square Garden CEO Jim Dolan said his company seeks to focus its resources on its MSG Sphere entertainment venue in Las Vegas. The company will continue to showcase Tribeca festival content in New York, he said.

AT&T will remain a sponsor of the festival.

“We’re looking forward to our continued work with Tribeca,” said Fiona Carter, chief brand officer of AT&T Communications. “They give creators amazing platforms that democratise film and support diversity and inclusion.”

Bloomberg