Alchemy Acquires ANconnect, Anderson Digital and Signs Pact With ARC Entertainment

Courtesy of Alchemy
Alchemy CEO Bill Lee

The indie film and TV distributor's new deals make it the largest entertainment distributor outside of the major studios.

Alchemy, the independent film and television distribution entity led by Bill Lee, has inked a trio of acquisitions and deals that have solidified the company as the industry’s largest entertainment distributor outside of the major studios.

Alchemy has finalized its deal to acquire the physical and digital arms of Anderson Media Corporation, a family-owned company operating a portfolio of consumer product and services businesses. The deal covers the Amarillo, Texas-based ANconnect and Anderson Digital, a global digital distributor of feature films and TV series, which was founded in 2012. Prior to this acquisition Anderson Digital was co-owned by Anderson and partners Freyr Thor and Steve Lyons. Anderson Digital has an international footprint, so the new deal allows Alchemy to strengthen its global business. 

The Hollywood Reporter first reported that negotiations were underway in mid-May.

"From the time of our reorganization, it's been our mission to create a viable opportunity for the indie community to unite as a very market-powerful industry," Lee tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We're thrilled that we've achieved something unique in the marketplace and think we're doing to make a real difference now as a united company."

As part of the deal, Charlie Anderson will become an investor in Alchemy and Thor will serve as Alchemy’s senior vp product management.

Plus, Alchemy has formed a pact with ARC Entertainment, the media and distribution company which supplies faith and family content to Walmart and other national retailers.

As part of that new deal, Alchemy will partner with ARC to optimize and distribute ARC's media assets and will also provide financial support for the growth of the Bentonville Film Festival as well as provide a larger framework for distribution of all titles — both physical and digital — that are associated with the festival. The film festival, which champions women and diversity, was founded by ARC, Geena Davis and Walmart and held its inaugural event in Bentonville, Arkansas in May.

"It's taken on quite an importance to the marketplace in recognizing women and minorities in film," says Lee of the festival. "Because of the Bentonville stamp on it, it's become the Mecca for industry and non-industry supporters in the common theme of minorities. We're quite proud to acquire that business."

The deals give Alchemy, which has previously distributed the work of filmmakers Richard Linklater, Werner Herzog, Gregg Araki, Dito Montiel and John Hillcoat, nearly 50 new content partners including Bagdasarian Productions (the owner of the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise); DreamWorks Animation’s non-theatrical and classics divisions; Ketchup; Microsoft (owners of the Halo franchise); Team Marketing; Vertical; Well Go USA; and XLrator. Alchemy also gains more than 200 new content suppliers for digital distribution, including the suppliers listed above and marquee brands such as Garfield and producers like U.K.’s Cake Entertainment and BRB of Spain.

The new deals will result in Alchemy creating about 40 new jobs in California on top of the 70 employees already working for the company. The deals also expand Alchemy’s annual content flow to more than 1,300 films and more than 3,000 TV episodes. Alchemy owns a catalog of more than 1,000 film titles. Its recent film successes include Welcome to Me, Survivor, Elsa & Fred, What Maisie Knew and Bernie.

"An aspect of our mission is to think a little bit more like a supply chain so we have a consistent flow of new products from all the very talented indie producers," says Lee.

The acquisition of ANconnect and Anderson Digital was negotiated by Lee and Alchemy’s executive vp operations Jim Jenkins, along with Anderson, Bill Lardie and Chuck Taylor on behalf of Anderson Media Corporation. The strategic alliance with ARC was negotiated by Lee and Jenkins with ARC’s Trevor Drinkwater. Alchemy was advised by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in the deal.