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In a move that will turn heads across the industry, Charles Cohen’s Cohen Media Group has acquired international sales company HanWay Films, the banner founded by legendary producer Jeremy Thomas (and that was co-owned with his partner Peter Watson).
While financial details weren’t disclosed splashy purchase sees real estate billionaire Cohen add to his growing indie empire, having already bought Landmark Theaters and U.K. cinema chain Curzon.
Under the deal, announced Thursday, London-based HanWay will continued to be branded as an independent label selling a broad range of theatrical titles to its distribution partners worldwide. Watson will continue to serve as president of the company, with Gabrielle Stewart as CEO.
Philip Knatchbull, CEO of Curzon, negotiated the transaction on behalf of Cohen Media Group.
“Twenty-five years in the sales agency business has given me enormous satisfaction,” said Thomas. “I am immensely proud of the business I have built with Peter Watson. In Gabrielle Stewart, the company has an outstanding CEO. I look forward to continuing the vital and stimulating relationship with HanWay that has sustained my films for so many years. I’m pleased to be handing over the baton to Charles Cohen.”
A long-standard flagbearer for the indie film world thanks largely to Thomas’ credentials, HanWay has worked with some of the greatest filmmakers and auteurs of cinema over the years. Its library includes some 350 classic independent films from directors such as Andrea Arnold, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jane Campion, David Cronenberg, Clint Eastwood, Milos Forman, Amos Gitai, Stephen Frears, Peter Greenaway, Todd Haynes, Jim Jarmusch, Neil Jordan, Takeshi Kitano, Steve McQueen, Takashi Miike, Nagisa Oshima, Sally Potter, Wim Wenders and more. Its current slate of upcoming films comprises a dozen features both in release and soon to be released, with eight titles in production or scheduled to go into production this year.
“HanWay is an established and recognized leader in the international sales market and Jeremy Thomas has long had a commitment to a style of filmmaking that aligns perfectly with our vision,” said Cohen. “With the fundamental changes continuing to happen in our industry, we are proud to make HanWay part of our existing brand.”
Jeremy Thomas’ Recorded Picture Company will maintain its close relationship with HanWay Films, which will continue to represent films from his upcoming slate. Watson will continue his role as CEO of Recorded Picture Company. HanWay will also continue to represent The Jeremy Thomas Collection, Thomas’ library of films.
“The opportunities for growth inherent in the integration of our sales business into a larger and dynamic international structure are very exciting,” said Watson. “Together we are a force in independent cinema.
Added Stewart: “This is a big opportunity to broaden our business with a greater focus on getting involved in projects earlier. We will have the dynamic ability to package, finance and develop IP in a host of different ways and with a greater connection to distribution, while remaining true to the filmmaker-friendly and marketing-driven spirit that defines us as a team.”
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