Sony Pictures Television Buys British Production Banner Left Bank Pictures

Issue 56A - Golden Globes Preview: Kenneth Branagh in Wallander
Courtesy of BBC for Masterpiece

The studio says the acquisition marks a "significant" move into scripted production in the U.K.

LONDON -- Sony Pictures Television (SPT) has inked a deal for a majority stake in British production company Left Bank Pictures, the banner behind Wallander - a crime series based on the popular novels by Scandinavian author Henning Mankel, starring Kenneth Branagh.

The move signals a "significant move into scripted production in the U.K.," according to the overseas studio arm.

Through the deal SPT will also distribute future Left Bank Pictures television content, both finished programming and formats, and will have a first look distribution option on movies produced by the company.

The deal is likely to cost Sony in the region of £40 million ($63 million) according to reports. BBC Worldwide owns a 12.2 percent minority stake in the company having had a 25 percent stake before the Sony deal.

A spokesman for Sony declined to comment on the financial terms.

As part of the deal BBC Worldwide retains the distribution rights of Left Bank titles currently in its catalog such as Wallander, DCI Banks and Mad Dogs and future returning series.

Left Bank Pictures' TV production resume also boasts Mad Dogs  for satellite operator Sky, Strike Back, a Sky/HBO Cinemax commission and Cardinal Burns for Channel 4's digital channel E4.

SPT president of international production Andrea Wong said she was "very excited to welcome Left Bank Pictures to our global production family."

Left Bank Pictures co-founder and chief executive Andy Harries said: "This is a brilliant opportunity for Left Bank and we are thrilled by the new partnership with SPT. I am a huge admirer of Andrea Wong and her energy and enthusiasm for our work is incredibly encouraging. This marks the start of a new phase of ambitious quality drama from us for the international market place."

Harries and Left Bank managing director Marigo Kehoe will continue to head Left Bank Pictures from its existing London office, with Harries reporting to Wong.  

The company’s movie arm is behind independent titles such as the Aung San Suu Kyi biopic, The Lady (with Europacorp), the adaptation of novelist David Peace’s The Damned United for Columbia Pictures and All In Good Time, backed by Studio Canal andbased on Ayub Khan Din’s hit National Theatre production.

Left Bank Pictures was founded in 2007 by Harries and Kehoe after they both exited Granada and ITV Studios, where they helped bring Prime Suspect, Cold Feet, The Royle Family and the Academy Award winning film The Queen to the screen.

Left Bank Pictures is SPT’s fourth U.K. production venture, joining Gogglebox Entertainment, Victory Television and Silver River.

Other markets outside the US where SPT produces scripted television locally include Germany, Russia, the Netherlands, The Middle East and across Latin America.