Veteran Sales Guru Vic Bateman Dies

"The Deer Hunter" was one of many films Vic Bateman sold worldwide in his long career.
"The Deer Hunter" was one of many films Vic Bateman sold worldwide in his long career.
 Universal/Everett Collection

LONDON – Victor Bateman, co-founder and vice chairman of British sales company AV Pictures and a familiar face on the international movie sales circuit for over 40 years, known to festival regulars as Vic, has died. He was 72.

Tributes to the man with the signature growl and ready laugh whose international sales distribution résumé boasted deals for The Deer Hunter, The Elephant Man and Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, flooded in Thursday.

Bateman was known for his love of genre and championing breakthrough talent such as Stephen Norrington (Blade), Scott Mann (The Tournament) and Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers).

Beginning in the contract administration department of British Lion in 1961, Bateman was promoted to the international sales division of what was by then EMI Films.

Over the years, Bateman handled sales duties on a slew of major films such as The Deer Hunter, The Elephant Man, A Passage to India, All of Me, Highlander, The Hitcher, Death on the Nile, Murder on the Orient Express, The Last Emperor and The Big Easy.

He co-founded United Media Film Sales in 1989 and was instrumental in the financing and worldwide sales of The Krays before setting up Victor Films, which launched with Split Second starring Rutger Hauer.

Bateman handled sales on titles including Death Machine directed by Norrington, Vadim Jean’s Clockwork Mice and Philip Ridley’s The Passion of Darkly Noon

Dog Soldiers, co-financed by Victor Film Co, was a new spin on the werewolf myth, directed by Marshall and starring Sean Pertwee and Kevin McKidd.

In January 2003, Bateman was named managing director of AV Pictures and ran the company with Gavin Braxton for over a decade.

AV Pictures managing director Chris Hainsworth led the tributes, noting: "Vic taught us all so much, not least the importance of subject matter, the gross corridor deal, and of remembering to have fun. We miss him greatly."

Oscar-winning producer Jeremy Thomas (The Last Emperor) said: "I have fine memories of Vic Bateman, who fitted into the ‘great unsung heroes’ category of the film industry, an enabler of films via international sales.  He always lived life to the full and his enthusiasm was infectious. He was involved with Terry Glinwood and myself on the sale of such films as Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, The Last Emperor and The Sheltering Sky, for which I shall be ever grateful. RIP Vic."

Stan Wertlieb of Grindstone Entertainment Group said: "I go back over 20 years with Victor Albert Bateman. He always asked, ‘Have you got a moment, Stan? I want to show you a very special film. I’ve got lots of offers over my ask, BUT I really want to sell it to YOU!’    

"Vic was a wonderful guy," Wertlieb continued. "Always with a sly smile to share, and a deal that just could not be refused. He was at every market with a special upbeat energy. He was my friend and I always made a point to stop by and just say hello whether I was interested or not in 'his very special films.' I am sure he is showing his trailers in Heaven now. He is loved and will be missed. Rest in peace, Vic."

In a joint statement, Smile Entertainment’s Claus de la Porte, Kim Philipsen and Timo Lahtinen and Nordisk Film’s Peter Philipsen said: "For more than 30 years Vic always met us with a smile, a glass, a fag and a pitch – of the best screenplay … ever! Now this great salesman and dear friend has gone silent but we greatly applaud his phenomenal life and eternal legacy. Here’s to you, Vic!"

Steve Break of Naedomi Media said: "Vic was such a force of nature, his gravelly voice and big laugh made everyone feel at ease. His tremendous personality made everyone ready for a good laugh and his compassion made everyone he encountered feel like a good friend."

Christopher Shaw of The Shaw Organization said: "40 years of wonderful personal and business relationship forever remembered by your friends the Shaw Family of Singapore."

Richard Sheffield of Polyphony Entertainment said: "Vic was a real gent from the old school and I will never forget that cheeky laugh. He made this business fun!"

Gope T. Samtani of Rapi Films Jakarta said: "I have known Vic for almost 30 years since he was at EMI and we have kept up relations continuously. I still remember his laughter. I never ever saw him in a bad mood. He was always cheerful. Last Berlin, I went to AV Pictures and asked about him but was told he had retired. I will pray to God Almighty for his soul to rest in peace and to give strength to the family members to bear the loss."  

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