Hanway, Celluloid merge

Dreamachine has 500 film library

LONDON — European film sales companies HanWay Films and Celluloid Dreams have merged to create an indie sales, financing and production powerhouse, under the banner Dreamachine.

The company, controlled and chaired jointly by HanWay owner Jeremy Thomas and Celluloid topper Hengameh Panahi, has a library of 500 titles and offices in London, Paris and Toronto.

HanWay’s Tim Haslam will act as CEO, based in London, with particular responsibility for sales, distribution and marketing. Panahi, based in Paris, will oversee acquisitions and production.

Celluloid’s existing Toronto team under Charlotte Mickie will be rolled into the venture, with a specific focus on co-productions, acquisitions and sales for independent North American films.

Thomas will continue to produce independently through his long-established Recorded Picture Co., but his movies will be handled by Dreamachine.

“Over the last few years, HanWay has dramatically expanded upon this aim, and I see Dreamachine as the marriage of two rapidly evolving companies with the same ambition: the distribution of quality cinema,” Thomas said.

Thomas and Panahi hope the combined strength of the Dreamachine library and management teams will enable them to leverage more financing for bigger movies, to attract filmmakers, to retain more rights and to give more support to distributors.

Dreamachine also plans to launch its own global digital distribution platform for video-on-demand via the Internet.

However, the total number of movies handled by Dreamachine will be significantly fewer than the combined existing output of HanWay and Celluloid. The aim is to focus increased resources more selectively on bigger movies, for which there is real demand in the marketplace.

This means that Panahi, in particular, will be making a substantial withdrawal from the kind of foreign-language, arthouse product in which she has specialized for many years.

“We can’t any more carry these small movies. I feel I’m hurting my distributors by tempting them to go with these festival films, for which there’s no economy today,” she said.

On the other hand, she said the financial muscle of the new joint venture will allow her to explore alternative digital distribution options for such arthouse fare, while also giving talented filmmakers the resources to make larger films.

“We can be more ambitious for our directors; we can help them to make a quicker breakthrough,” she said.

In recent years, Celluloid has expanded into higher-budget, English-language movies, such as “I’m Not There,” by Todd Haynes, and Michael Haneke’s remake of his own film “Funny Games.”

Dreamachine will bow at the Cannes Film Festival in May with a slate of all the existing projects from HanWay and Celluloid.

The 500-pic library includes movies by Woody Allen, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Cronenberg, the Dardennes brothers, Peter Weir and Wim Wenders.

With no corporate debt or external shareholders, Dreamachine is in a strong position to raise third-party financing for expansion, including the possibility of acquiring other libraries or sales companies.

The Dreamachine board will include Peter Watson and Stephan Mallmann from RPC/HanWay, and Philippe Aigle and Mickie from Celluloid, all of whom have small stakes in the company.

Watson and Aigle will expand the financing role as exec producers, manage and acquire library assets and spearhead the digital plans. Mallmann will manage operations as chief operating officer.

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