When the much-anticipated film version of "The Kite Runner" opens in movie theaters on Friday, the credits will list Bruce Toll, vice chairman of Toll Brothers, as co-executive producer.
For the past two years, Toll--who as of last March owned about 6 percent of Toll Brothers' outstanding stock--has been a financial partner in the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based film production company Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, owned by long-time friend and fellow Philadelphian Sidney Kimmell, who is perhaps better known as chairman of Jones Apparel Group.
Over the years, the 63-year-old Toll has had financial interests that have ranged widely, from biotech to commercial real estate development. His companies include Reedman-Toll Auto World in Langhorne, Pa., one of the largest car dealerships in the country. More recently Toll entered the publishing field when he put up a reported $30 million to help form Philadelphia Media Holdings LLC, which in 2006 acquired The Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com newspapers and Web site. Toll is PMH's chairman.
Last week, Toll Brothers reported its first earning loss in 20 years, so Toll's spirits should be buoyed by the fact that "The Kite Runner," adapted from the best-selling novel by Khaled Hosseini, is among the films expected to vie for industry honors over the next months.
"This is the best film I've seen in 20 years," says Toll, who notes that the audience at a recent preview screening he attended stood up and applauded after seeing it. Several films that Kimmel and Toll produced together this year--including "Talk to Me," and "Lars and the Real Girl"--also have been mentioned as possible award recipients. The comedy "Death at a Funeral" is probably the best known of the ten films that Toll and Kimmell have produced together so far.
Toll says he's enjoying the movie business so far, but he's quick to note that his involvement is strictly financial. "I'm not telling anybody what to do," he laughs.
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