Stewart Till finalizes Icon Group deal

Inks first-look deal with Mel Gibson's Icon Prods.

LONDON -- Stewart Till, the former CEO of United International Pictures and a previous U.K. Film Council chairman, has dotted the i's and crossed the t's on a long-gestating deal to buy the U.K. operations of the L.A.-based Icon Group.

The deal has been struck with cash backing from Access Industries, founded and run by U.S. industrialist Len Blavatnik.

The finalized deal -- after more than a year of due diligence and negotiations between Till and Icon co-founder Bruce Davey -- sees Till capture a company comprising Icon's international sales banner, the distribution operation based in the U.K. and the Majestic Films & Television library.

The business will continue to trade under the Icon name with Till appointed Icon U.K. CEO. He will be responsible for managing and developing the organization and will also be an equity holder in the business.

The Icon Group retains ownership of the Australian distribution and cinema assets. Icon U.K. and Icon Australia will continue to acquire territory distribution rights together. L.A.-based Icon Prods., owned by Davey and Mel Gibson, has also entered into a first-look deal with Icon U.K. thought to be for an initial three years.

Till said: "This acquisition is a fantastic first step in our plans to build an international distribution network that will be operational in all the key major territories around the world, including Eastern Europe and Asia."

Till told The Hollywood Reporter he was looking forward to jumping into the hot seat at the American Film Market later this week.

Added Davey: "We're very pleased to have done a deal with Stewart and Access and to know that the Icon brand will be in such experienced hands. We look forward to continuing a close relationship between the Icon U.K. and Australian businesses and keenly anticipate the company's expansion plans into other territories."

Icon U.K. has a British release slate with potential over the next nine months including Sam Taylor-Wood's John Lennon biopic "Nowhere Boy," Oren Peli's horror-action thriller "Paranormal Activity" and Richard Kelly's horror sci-fi thriller "The Box," starring Cameron Diaz, James Marsden and Frank Langella.

The Majestic library includes such titles as Oscar winners "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Dances With Wolves."