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New owners to wheel Ealing onto the Internet

Group creating digital studio with technology upgrades

Kao Ventures, Barnaby Thompson, Uri Fructmann of Fragile Films and Harry Handelsman of B2B have acquired London’s nearly 100-year-old Ealing Studios for $10 million.

The buyers say they will pump new technology into Ealing and ink partnerships with tech players to turn the studio into a digital powerhouse. Studio will still continue with its traditional filmmaking offerings.

Idea is to enable Ealing’s cinematographers and film directors to work alongside e-commerce entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and to rub elbows with designers of wireless portals to create and distrib content.

“We intend to turn Ealing into a next-generation digital studio, the first of its kind in Europe, that combines traditional film and TV production with new media and Internet start-ups,” said Fruchtmann, a co-founder of Fragile Films.

Ealing, opened in 1902, was most recently used to shoot “Notting Hill” and “Spiceworld” and Brit pics “The Lavender Hill Mob,” “Kind Hearts and Coronet’s” and “Whiskey Galore.”

The partners acquired the studio from The National Film and Television School of London.

“The new Ealing Studios will preserve its proud traditions of the past while exploring the uncharted digital future,” Handelsman said. “We will inspire a creative environment that incorporates the existing architecture with modernized amenities.”

John Kao is CEO and the founder of both Kao Ventures, and San Francisco-based The Idea Factory, which specializes in Internet-related venture startups. His producer credits include “Sex, Lies and Videotape” and “Mr. Baseball.”

Fragile Films produced “An Ideal Husband.” B2B is a design and property development shop.

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