Brit horror house Hammer coming back from dead

LONDON — Hammer Films is set to rise from the grave, as a consortium of entertainment entrepreneurs has acquired the cult British house of horror.

Under its new ownership, the company plans to inject fresh blood into the unique Hammer brand by returning to active film and TV production.

It will also seek to build Hammer into the leading horror brand in all media, including Internet distribution and e-commerce.

The new consortium behind Hammer includes former Warner Music chairman Rob Dickins; advertising mogul Charles Saatchi; Neil Mendoza and William Sieghart, who head the U.K.’s fast-growing Forward Publishing; and former Ernst & Young exec Larry Chrisfield, the doyen of film accountants.

Hammer will be managed by Bridge Media, a film consultancy run by former Daily Variety journalist Terry Ilott and Peter Naish, formerly managing director of distrib First Independent Films.

Horrormeister

“Hammer is the strongest name in horror,” said Chrisfield, who will be chairman of the company. “We have brought together an exceptional group of individuals who believe that in a fast-growing but volatile business such as entertainment, a strong brand in a perennially popular genre has enormous potential.

“Not only are the new opportunities in digital television and the Internet multiplying the value of Hammer’s existing assets, but digital production and distribution techniques enable us to add to those assets at low cost and low risk.”

No price has been announced for the purchase, described only as a “multimillion pound deal,” including the purchase price and the commitment of new investment.

According to Ilott, Hammer will seek to partner with other producers on a project-by-project basis, rather than starting its own inhouse production operation.

Ghost in the library

Hammer’s library includes 179 movies, 29 shorts and documentaries, and six TV series. It also owns a considerable catalog of scripts and books that has not yet been exploited.

Founded in 1935, the company continued in production until 1983. Its cult classics include such titles as “The Curse of Frankenstein,” “Dracula,” “The Mummy,” “The Curse of the Werewolf,” “The Plague of the Zombies” and “The Devil Rides Out.”

Hammer has been owned since the mid-’80s by Roy Skeggs, who first joined the company in the 1960s. Skeggs and his brother Graham will continue as consultants.

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