Stewart Till takes control of Icon Group

Mel Gibson's Icon Prods. not included in deal

LONDON -- Stewart Till, the former CEO of United International Pictures and current U.K. Film Council chairman, has made his first major move toward an international distribution empire, snapping up Icon Group's international sales arm and distribution companies as well as its Majestic Film and Television library.

Till's Stadium Entertainment, backed by Access Industries, among others, is taking 100% of Icon's distribution and sales operations in a multimillion-dollar deal subject to due diligence.

Till will become president of Icon through the deal, and the company will continue to use the Icon name in the distribution markets and as a sales banner. Mark Gooder will continue to oversee the existing Icon operations, reporting to Till.

The deal, however, does not include Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey's U.S.-based Icon Prods., which remains with the duo.

Till's Icon has sealed a three-year, first-look deal for films produced by Gibson and Davey's label to go through his distribution and sales machine.

The deal is the culmination of months of work by Till, who aims to set up an international distribution network mirroring a modern-day update of the operation he once led at PolyGram Filmed Entertainment.

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

Till previously talked of his long-burning ambitions to establish a high-end indie international distribution empire to service the top-level filmmakers in Hollywood and beyond.

He has been searching for established operations to buy through his investment company, and Icon is likely to be just the start.

Access Industries was founded and is run by U.S. industrialist Len Blavatnik. Its media division already includes a controlling stake in U.K. digital broadcasting bouquet Top Up TV.