National Geographic Films Partnering with Hyde Park

National Geographic Logo - H 2011

National Geographic Logo - H 2011

The announcement comes on the heels of the closing of Nat Geo Film's Beverly Hills office.

In the wake of the closing of the Beverly Hills office of National Geographic Films comes the announcement Thursday that the National Geographic Society and Image Nation are partnering with Hyde Park to produce entertainment content for global distribution.

Hyde Park already has a partnership with Image Nation, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Media, which is based in the United Arab Emirates. Image Nation had previously created a $100 million film fund with National Geographic.

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Hyde Park-Image Nation has a movie called Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance which it is making with Sony. It is scheduled for release on Feb. 17, 2012.

The Hyde Park venture with the Abu Dabi financier began in 2009 when they partnered on a $250 million financing deal to make and distribute feature films. They also extended that partnership through an alliance with Media Development Authority of Singapore, launched in 2010 with a fund of about $75 million to make movies.

Former Miramax president Daniel Battsek, who had headed National Geographic Films, is now out of that post, but has an on-going relationship as a consultant to Hyde Park-Image Nation, according to an announcement Thursday.

Hyde Park-Image Nation’s movie activities will be headed by veteran filmmaker and financier Ashok Amritraj, a former professional tennis player who has become a major player in the independent film world.  

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"We like Hyde Park's approach to the business, their growth and success in Asia, and the fact that Ashok and his team are already working closely with our partner, Image Nation," Tim Kelly, President of National Geographic Society, said in a prepared statement.  "This partnership makes sense from all angles, and by folding our current feature film effort into this new venture, we will be able to pursue bigger, more ambitious projects and expand into growing markets like India and China."

Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s Chairman Mohamed Al Mubarak said in a statement :  “This venture will advance our relationship with both Hyde Park and National Geographic. At the same time it will provide another great opportunity for young Emirati filmmakers to gain real world, hands-on experience that will help build their personal/professional networks so critical to success in the motion picture industry.”

Amritraj said in a statement: “Hyde Park and National Geographic have enjoyed a close relationship with Image Nation over the years, and by aligning the two brands, we create a dynamic venture that will deliver high-quality entertainment to audiences around the world.”

Under Battsek, who left Miramax when it was shut down by Disney in 2010, National Geographic Films did not produce many movies, and those it did release did not perform well. Their biggest movie last year was the documentary The Last Lion, which opened in  February (in limited platform release that never went above 61 screens), which grossed just over $635,000.