20 May 2008
Cyrte Investements Acquires Spitfire Pictures to Combine with Hammer
Dutch Investment Group, Cyrte Investements Acquires Spitfire Pictures to Combine with Hammer to Form a New Worldwide Entertainment Operation
Company has access to $100 Million Fund
Cannes, France – May 20, 2008 – It was announced today that Cyrte Investments, which, in partnership with Goldman Sachs and Mediaset, recently acquired Endemol for Euros 3.5 bn., has acquired Nigel Sinclair’s and Guy East’s L.A. based production company Spitfire Pictures. Cyrte will combine Spitfire with legendary British studio, Hammer, in which they already have an interest, and is run by Simon Oakes and Marc Schipper, to form the base for building a new global filmed entertainment group, HS Media.
Cyrte intends to provide substantial equity for the acquisition by HS Media of libraries and complimentary businesses as part of the new Group’s growth strategy. The announcement was made in Cannes by Cyrte Chairman Frank Botman along with Sinclair, Oakes and East.
For development and production purposes, HS Media will initially have shareholders equity and facilities in excess of $100 million, with the ability to leverage this capital further. The new Group will establish a foreign sales arm to be complimented by a vertically integrated distribution operation.
Under the terms of the deal, Spitfire and Hammer will operate as one business with two separate brands. The triumvirate of Nigel Sinclair, Guy East and Simon Oakes will run HS Media with Sinclair and Oakes serving as Co-Chairmen and Co-CEOs (out of Los Angeles and London respectively), and East as President and Chairman of the Executive Board and of the Sales and Distribution Operation.
Hammer’s Marc Schipper has been appointed COO of the Group and Andy Mayson has joined as CFO and MD of International Sales and Distribution. Long time Spitfire executives Tobin Armbrust and Alex Brunner will join the Group management team in Los Angeles. Armbrust will head up Worldwide Production and Brunner will head up US operations.
Cyrte’s strategic investment team wishes to position the new Group to take advantage of so called “digital convergence” in entertainment on top of becoming a vertically integrated film production, distribution and financing operation. Accordingly, the Group will be interested in acquiring and developing entertainment brands which can develop a separate presence within the emerging digital platforms and communities.
HS Media will initially produce 6-8 films per year and will acquire additional pictures for worldwide distribution. Development and production activities will be run out of both Los Angeles and London. The group also intends to develop projects for television. Discussions are already underway with a number of high profile partners including the BBC.
HS Media has a current combined Hammer and Spitfire library of over 300 titles and will pursue an aggressive library acquisition policy. Several major libraries are already being considered for acquisition by the group. The Hammer library is noted for its remake potential and the company is in discussions with A-list writers and directors to revive and re-imagine some of the highly touted titles.
Said Nigel Sinclair, “Guy and I are thankful for the opportunity to work with Frank Botman and the Cyrte team, and merge our company with our good friend Simon Oakes and Hammer Films. This is a really interesting time in the history of our business with digital convergence continuing to expand, and we believe that a talent based strong content business is the right way to make it in this new world.”
Simon Oakes commented, “I am very excited about this opportunity. I believe a combination of this management team and Cyrte’s track record in media investments will provide the platform to build a significant company in the film industry.”
Spitfire Pictures is a Los Angeles based Film Company, with two operating divisions. Spitfire’s Film Division is planning an early 2009 release for its new thriller, POSSESSION, starring Sarah Michelle Gellar (THE GRUDGE).
Under Spitfire’s first look deal with Hammer, the division has recently acquired remake rights to Thomas Alfredson’s Tribeca winner LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.
Spitfire has a very active slate of films in pre-production and development with several highly successful writers including Bill Broyles (APOLLO 13), Stuart Beattie (COLLATERAL), Christopher McQuarrie (THE USUAL SUSPECTS and the upcoming VALKYRIE), Justin Haythe (the upcoming REVOLUTIONARY ROAD), Craig Zahler (THE BRIGANDS OF RATTLEBORGE), Max Makowski (SHINOBI at Universal) and Christopher Cleveland (GLORY ROAD).
Other projects which have been announced include Mike Myers starring in the biographical picture about the life of legendary Who drummer KEITH MOON, and Philip Noyce (THE QUIET AMERICAN, PATRIOT GAMES) directing an adaptation of the best-seller MORAL HAZARD.
Spitfire’s Documentary Division has two signature music documentaries currently in release: AMAZING JOURNEY: THE STORY OF THE WHO and the award winning NO DIRECTION HOME: BOB DYLAN directed by Martin Scorsese. Barry Blaustein’s UNTITLED TEENAGE MUSICAL is about to be delivered to Lionsgate and Showtime, and Spitfire has teamed again with Martin Scorsese to direct THE UNTITLED GEORGE HARRISON documentary. Delivery of 3-4 documentaries per year is planned.
Founders and Co-Chairmen, Guy East and Nigel Sinclair are long time film executives who together were the founders of Intermedia Films and separately founded Majestic Films International and the Los Angeles based law firm, Sinclair Tenenbaum.
About Cyrte Investments
Cyrte Investments was originally started in 2000 as the family office for the private wealth of media-entrepreneur John de Mol – the founder of Endemol and creator of Big Brother and Deal or No Deal. Cyrte has subsequently grown to include a number of other investors. Since 2007 Cyrte is part of Delta Lloyd Asset Management, with some 68 billion euro in assets under management (end 2007), one of the Netherlands major Asset Managers. Cyrte is based in the Netherlands, has an active interest in media investments, as demonstrated by its recent €3.5 billion acquisition of Endemol in partnership with Goldman Sachs and MediaSet.
Hammer is a legendary British film brand which was originally launched in 1934 and, following a period of inactivity during WW2, delivered a hugely successful run of gothic monster movies in the 1950’s including such hits as THE QUATERMASS EXPERIMENT, CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, THE NANNY and DRACULA. Hammer's reputation became branded worldwide as the 'Hammer House of Horror'. In the 1960’s Hammer struck distribution deals with Universal, Warner Brothers, Fox and Columbia. Hammer went on to produce a huge volume of films which included such classics as THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT and ONE MILLION YEARS BC.
Not in production since the 1980s, the company is now being aggressively reinvigorated through new investment in the development, production, financing and distribution of film, television and digital-platform content.
Today, Hammer has an active development slate totaling more than 25 projects sourced out of both Europe and – via its First Look deal with Spitfire – the United States. Hammer expects a number of these projects to go into production during the course of 2008.
Further to its strategy to explore digital distribution models next to film production, Hammer is currently releasing its innovative online serial BEYOND THE RAVE worldwide (and localized for 19 countries simultaneously) via MySpace – the world’s leading internet social networking site. See www.myspace.com/beyondtherave for more information.