Tartan closed for business

McAlpine breaks news to London staff

U.K. distrib Tartan Films has finally shuttered.

Tartan employees found the London office doors shut Thursday and were informed later in the day by topper Hamish McAlpine that the company was closed for business, sources told Daily Variety.

Speculation over Tartan’s future has been lively for several months. The distrib was believed to be in takeover talks with David Bergstein of the Capco Group, the firm that owns ThinkFilm, a stake in I.M. Global and the U.K.’s Capitol Film. But Capco itself was plagued by rumors of financial troubles for much of last year before negotiations broke down following disagreements over Tartan’s value.

In October Tartan announced that it had received a cash injection of £3 million ($5.98 million) in the form of a convertible loan from a private investor and also had restructured its British operation, with managing director Laura De Casto ankling.

The company’s PR and marketing departments, previously run out of separate London offices, also were merged into one entity based at Tartan’s head office.

Stateside arm Tartan USA announced at Cannes in May that it was being foreclosed. Film print and advertising financing company Palisades Media Corp. has since bought the U.S. rights to its library, which includes “Old Boy” and “Lady Vengeance.”

Those moves now appear to have offered only temporary respite from a downward turn of fortune for McAlpine, who founded Tartan in 1982.

The company subsequently expanded by launching sublabels such as Tartan Terror and Tartan Asia Extreme. Distrib arguably became the home for genre fare and edgy foreign-language pics, especially from Asia.

Tartan execs have yet to comment on what the future holds for the company, although it seems likely that liquidators and accountants will be brought in to assess its assets and sell them off.

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