As the Berlin Film Festival and European Film Market get under way, British digital television channel Film4 has announced a flurry of news, including an agreement with Fox Searchlight Pictures to co-finance Martin McDonagh‘s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” along with producer Blueprint Pictures.
Additionally, Film4, Entertainment Film Distributors and production company FP Films (set up by “The Inbetweeners” creators Iain Morris and Damon Beesley) have announced a two-year development, production and distribution deal that covers a slate of four new comedy features.
Finally, Film4 director David Kosse and Channel 4 Chief Executive David Abraham revealed that the funding budget of Film4 has increased from £15 million to £25 million in 2016 — with the ambition of maintaining similar increased levels of Film4 funding in future years. The funding increase allowed for Film4 to strike deals with Fox Searchlight and FP Films.
The announcement was made at an event to celebrate the success of Film4-backed films this awards season, which saw the company score a record 22 BAFTA and 15 Oscar nominations for the likes of “Room,” “Carol,” “Ex Machina,” “45 Years,” “Amy,” “The Lobster” and “Second Coming.”
Film4 developed and financed FP Films’ two “Inbetweeners movies” with Morris and Beesley. An international sales agent will be assigned to the films under the pact.
“We firmly believe that Iain and Damon are the guys to lead the development of this new slate of films and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with both them and Nigel Green at Entertainment Film Distributors to bring more great UK comedy to audiences worldwide,” Film4’s Kosse said.
“We are delighted to be working with the hugely talented and creative Iain Morris and Damon Beesley as well as the terrific team at Film4, led by David Kosse, on these movies. Our collaboration on The Inbetweeners movies was not only a financial success, but also one of the most enjoyable experiences we have ever had due to their talent, enthusiasm and commitment,” added Green.
“Film4 and Entertainment have been incredibly supportive of us from the start of our fledgling film careers, and have made the process fun, interesting and successful. We hope to repay the support and help they’ve given us with some smart, funny, moving, exciting films and look forward to working closely with people we consider the best in the business,” Morris and Beesley said in a joint statement.
As for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” McDonagh’s script attracted Film4 at an early stage. The project will be produced by McDonagh’s long-time producing partners Graham Broadbent and Peter Czernin at Blueprint Pictures alongside the director himself. Filming is set to start in April on location in North Carolina.
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” will be financed on a 50/50 basis by Film4 and Fox Searchlight Pictures, with the studio taking worldwide distribution rights. Film4’s parent company Channel 4 Television will retain UK TV rights. Film4 and Fox Searchlight Pictures expect this deal to be a template for future collaboration, looking to finance more films together in this way on a non-exclusive basis.
Film4, McDonagh and Blueprint first worked together on the critically acclaimed “In Bruges” for which McDonagh received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and won a BAFTA for Original Screenplay in 2008. They next collaborated on the BAFTA nominated Seven Psychopaths, starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken in the ensemble cast.
Fox Searchlight Pictures and Blueprint have also maintained their own very successful relationship via the production of” The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” films (with a combined worldwide box office of $225 million).
“I’m delighted that through our shared passion and taste on several recent projects, we have come up with a mutually rewarding way for Film4 and Fox Searchlight to work together. They are a fantastic distribution partner to have on your side and we look forward to working closely with them and our friends at Blueprint over the next few months to help bring Martin’s darkly comic writing and directing genius to audiences around the globe,” Kosse said.
CAA and Broadbent brokered the rights deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures and Kosse and Harry Dixon negotiated the co-finance deal with Fox Searchlight Pictures on behalf of Film4.
These deals sit alongside a hugely diverse range of upcoming Film4 projects which continue Film4’s established track record of working with the most distinctive and innovative talent in the UK and internationally. These include The Selfish Giant director, Clio Barnard’s next film, Dark River; Bart Layton’s heist movie, American Animals, which we will be partnering on with AI Films; the next film from 45 Years director Andrew Haigh, Lean on Pete; a new film about Mary Magdalene from Garth Davis; Danny Boyle‘s long-awaited sequel to Trainspotting; and new films from first-time filmmakers – Michael Peace’s Beast; Toby MacDonald’s Old Boys; Adam Smith’s Trespass Against Us and Benedict Andrews‘ Una.