Berlin: levelFilm Acquires Rival Indie Film Distributor Search Engine Films

Courtesy of TIFF
'Journey's End'

The deal for the Canadian distributor comes as indies continue merging to gain leverage against digital disruptors.

Indie film sales distributor levelFilm has acquired rival Search Engine Films, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the transaction is the latest sign of a Canadian company combining operations with a rival to gain leverage in negotiations with digital disruptors like Netflix and Amazon.

"The acquisition of Search Engine is an exciting move for our company and was a natural next step for levelFilm as we continue to grow both in Canada and abroad,” David Hudakoc, managing director of levelFILM, said as he unveiled the deal at the European Film Market in Berlin.

The pact comes at a time of consolidation across various areas of the entertainment industry, including among Hollywood giants, such as Walt Disney's propsed $52.4 billion deal for large parts of 21st Century Fox.

The levelFilm deal follows Boat Rocker Media acquiring Proper Television and Proper Rights, and Kew Media Group picking up film and TV distribution outfit Content Media Corp.

levelFilm said it acquired Toronto-based Search Engine Films to expand on its theatrical offerings. The Toronto-based levelFilm in September secured equity financing by selling a majority stake to Calgary-based media investor Venntertainment Corp.

As part of the deal, former Search Engine president John Bain will join levelFilm team as head of distribution. He launched Search Engine Films in 2013 after executive stints at Maple Pictures and Lionsgate Films.

Hudakoc and business partner Michael Baker launched levelFilm in 2013 as well. Bain will oversee levelFilm's release slate and help with acquisitions, sales and strategic partnerships.

Upcoming Search Engine releases landing in the levelFilm fold include the war drama Journey’s End, starring Asa Butterfield, Sam Claflin and Paul Bettany, which is set to hit theaters in March. 

This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Feb. 17 daily issue at the Berlin International Film Festival.

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