Distrib Roseland blooms in U.K.

Merchant Ivory, Capitol, Mayfair launch joint venture

VENICE — Merchant Ivory Prods., sales company Capitol Films and Roger Wingate’s Mayfair Entertainment Group have joined forces to launch their own U.K. theatrical distribution company, Roseland Distribution.

Roseland’s first release will be Merchant Ivory’s “A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries,” which preemed Sunday out of competition at the 55th Venice Film Festival to a rapturous reception.

The pic, which was financed by Capitol, will open Oct. 9 in the U.K. at Wingate’s flagship Curzon Mayfair cinema, before moving to wider release.

Roseland, an equal joint venture between the three partners, will aim to distribute five to six films a year, mixing selected titles from Capitol and Merchant Ivory with third-party acquisitions.

The films will typically use Wingate’s circuit of upscale Curzon arthouses as their London platform, but will not be restricted to those theaters.

The U.K. suffers from an acute shortage of strong indie distribs, making it difficult for sophisticated niche movies to get adequate releases. The arrival of Roseland will help ease that problem a bit.

“The fact that the U.K. is such a poorly covered territory meant that it was one we wanted to explore, especially because that’s where we’re based ourselves,” said Jane Barclay, who runs Capitol with partner Sharon Harel.

Roseland will not immediately be hiring a large staff, with marketing and acquisitions duties to be handled for the time being by the partners themselves.

“A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries,” directed by James Ivory and starring Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Hershey, is the saga of an American family living in Paris during the 1960s and ’70s. It received a 10-minute standing ovation after its world premiere here. The pic was not included in the competition because producer Ismail Merchant is sitting on the jury.

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