Stuart Ford may have been named Variety’s Billion Dollar Producer, but the AGC Studios founder is already looking ahead to his next big milestone.
“We’ve raised more than $1.5 billion in production financing [over the last 17 years] and, the way our cinema business is evolving, who knows, in three or four years from now, I might be standing in front of you having achieved $1.05 billion at the box office!” said Ford.
The executive was feted by Variety at a May 19 cocktail reception in Cannes. Many of the super-producer’s business associates and partners, as well as industry friends, dropped by the Croisette villa to toast Ford, who was given the honor by Variety’s co-editor in chief Ramin Setoodeh.
“Variety invented words such as boffo, legit, sitcom, sex appeal and striptease. It’s my recollection that your colleagues have used [most] of these words to describe me and my companies over the years, but I will tell you I’ve never produced a sitcom or a legit stage play,” joked Ford as he accepted the honor.
“This is an award in my name but it’s really about the tremendous achievements of my colleagues at AGC Studios and, before that, at IM Global. We all know that film and television production is an immense collective team effort, and I wouldn’t have been privileged enough to have my name on 70-plus films without the tremendous enthusiasm, intelligence, good humor, patience and hard work of my colleagues.”
Ford gave a special shout-out to his colleague of 17 years and business partner, Miguel Palos, who serves as COO of AGC Studios.
“Typically, he’s not here this evening. He’s back in Los Angeles, closing another $175 million of production financing while I swan around in the south of France,” said Ford. “He is the man who makes the trains run on time, and the clocks tick. Without Miguel Palos, there is no billion dollar producer in front of you.”
Ford also thanked his backers, including Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Latin American private asset management firm MediaNet Partners and leading Silicon Valley entrepreneur Greg Clark. “Thank you for your faith in me and your belief in every AGC Studios project. We’ve had a tremendous five years together. I know I’ve given you a few sleepless nights along the way, but please know it’s your support of me and your friendship that is all the reward I could ask for.”
Among the guests at the Croisette villa were CAA Media Finance co-head Ben Kramer and Participant Media CEO David Linde. Also in attendance was Bonnie Voland, AGC’s former head of worldwide marketing and publicity, who started with Ford at IM Global and retired in 2022. (Ford threw Voland a retirement bash at last year’s festival.)
“When you work with someone and you build two companies with them and you see them getting the accolades they deserve, how would I not be here?” Voland told Variety. “Because I’ve been here since day one, it’s nice to be appreciated and for Stuart to want me to be here. But it’s him — to work with someone like that and to celebrate him is very special.”
AGC’s divisions have completed 36 film and TV productions in five years, with partners including Paramount Global, Peacock, Lionsgate, Netflix and Amazon, as well as overseas players Studiocanal and the BBC. At Cannes, AGC Intl. has launched sales on “They Found Us,” from writer-director Neill Blomkamp with Joel Kinnaman attached to star, as well as Ron Howard’s thriller “The Origin of Species,” starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, Ana de Armas, Jude Law and Alicia Vikander.
AGC’s finance unit claims $1 billion available capital raised in conjunction with third-party partners. Meanwhile, its sales division has notched $500 million transactions. Ford has credits on films with upwards of $1 billion in box office.