James Murdoch’s Lupa Systems Takes Control of Tribeca Film Festival

August 5, 2019, 4:43 PM UTC
Tribeca Film Festival
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 04: Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal attend "Yesterday" Closing Night Gala Film - 2019 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on May 04, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)
Theo Wargo—Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

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’re buying from investors including Madison Square Garden Co. 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 Jane Rosenthal, chief executive officer and co-founder of Tribeca Enterprises, 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 Co. bought most of 21st Century Fox this year for $71 billion, with his older brother, Lachlan, now running the smaller Fox Corp.

The Tribeca Film Festival, which has featured a 360-degree theater, 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 stake and other financial terms weren’t disclosed. LionTree Advisors is serving as financial adviser to Tribeca.

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

Attention Capital, which invests in media brands, was started by former Palantir Technologies Inc. executive Ashlyn Gentry, Nick Bell, a former Snap Inc. 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 Inc. 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 democratize film and support diversity and inclusion.”