Pathee UK and Warner Bros. Entertainment UK ink new alliance

MUMBAI: Pathee and Warner Bros. Entertainment UK (WBEUK) have inked a new strategic alliance in the UK, effective 13 April, that will see WBEUK distribute Pathe’s films in the UK and Ireland and the two companies will work together to identify co-production opportunities.

The announcement of this new alliance was made by Pathe executive vice president Francois Ivernel and Pathe UK managing director Cameron McCracken and WBEUK president and managing director Josh Berger.

As part of its natural evolution, Pathe UK will focus on the development and production of its own titles rather than the acquisition of third party films. The intention is to produce a slate of four to five English language films a year, to be supplemented by productions from Pathe France.

Moving forward, all of Pathe’s films will be distributed in the UK and Ireland by WBEUK, commencing in May with the release of Stephen Frears’ Cheri, starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Rupert Friend and Kathy Bates.

Pathe UK will continue to devise the marketing campaigns for the films, with WBEUK taking on the exploitation of the titles across all media outlets and platforms with the exception of the video rights, which will continue to be handled for Pathe by Twentieth Century Fox.

With respect to the increase in Pathe UK’s production activity, Pathe and WBEUK will work together to identify co-production opportunities. The two companies have already been working together for several months on The Jungle Books – a big budget live action version of the classic Kipling novel, the test shoot for which is currently in post-production.

Pathe recently dominated the Oscars and BAFTA Awards this year with Danny Boyle’s multiple Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire, which has grossed over $243 million worldwide to date, and picked up eight Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director, and seven BAFTA awards.

The company’s recent releases also include the BAFTA winning The Duchess, the period drama starring Kiera Knightly, which won an Oscar for Best Costume, and Steve McQueen’s critically acclaimed BAFTA winning directorial debut Hunger about Irish republican hunger striker Bobby Sands. Upcoming releases include Stephen Frears’ Cheri starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend; Pedro Almodovar’s Broken Embraces starring Penelope Cruz and Jane Campion’s Bright Star starring Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish.

Warner Bros. is currently enjoying success with The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button and the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino. Gran Torino has grossed over $177 million worldwide to date and expected to be the highest grossing film of Eastwood’s extraordinary career.

The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, has grossed over $1 billion worldwide to date, making it the top superhero/comic book movie of all time and 2008’s highest grossing film worldwide. It also earned Ledger a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

For Pathe, Ivernel, and McCracken said, "To address the challenges of a rapidly evolving digital world, we felt the most rational response was to develop an alliance with a US Studio. Our relationship with Fox in terms of video distribution has always worked extremely well, so a broader alliance with a US Studio feels entirely natural – we have been approached many times over the years to create such an alliance, but none has offered such a perfect fit as Warner Bros., with its integrated approach across all distribution windows and media platforms. By our continuing management of the whole filmmaking process from development, through production to the marketing of our films, we will continue to provide a bespoke service to our filmmakers whilst also allowing them to benefit from Studio backing."

Warner Bros Entertainment UK president and managing director Josh Berger said, "We are delighted to be entering into this strategic partnership with Pathe, one of Europe’s pre-eminent producers of quality, critically acclaimed feature films and a company we have long admired. This exciting alliance will help us both to increase our investment in the production and acquisition of films in the UK and Ireland and to use our relationships and expertise across traditional and new media channels to bring Pathee’s great films to ever more film fans."

This strategic alliance relates to distribution in the UK and Ireland only, and does not extend to the activities of Pathe France, nor does it affect Pathe UK’s continued role as a leading international sales agents for both Pathe’s own productions and third party titles.