Executive will handle international sales, ops

Former Polygram chief Stewart Till has inked a deal to acquire the international sales and distribution operations of Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey’s Icon Entertainment.

Gibson and Davey will continue to own and operate their U.S.-based production banner Icon Films as a standalone company under the deal, which sees Till’s company Stadium take over Icon Film Distribution in the U.K. and Australia as well as the Majestic film and TV library.

Move ushers in Till’s efforts to rebuild the defunct Euro major Polygram Filmed Entertainment, which was sold by Dutch music company Polygram to Seagram in 1999 and subsequently merged with the international distribution operations of Universal Studios, then owned by the Canadian beverages conglom.

Till will now look to build or acquire distribution outlets in France, Italy, Germany and Spain as well as explore opportunities in the fast-growing market of Russia. That process is likely to take 12-18 months.

Deal marks the latest effort to build an international distribution network outside the U.S. studios.

Companies such as Canada’s Entertainment One and Alliance, as well as France’s Wild Bunch and StudioCanal, have all launched their own ambitious endeavors to build multiterritory operations.

Toronto-based Entertainment One has acquired Canuck distrib Seville Pictures, Benelux indie RCV and Contender Entertainment in the U.K.; Goldman Sachs-backed Alliance has the U.K.’s Momentum and Spain’s Aurum under its umbrella and is also partnered with Tarak Ben Ammar through his Gallic distrib Quinta and Italian distrib Eagle Pictures; StudioCanal owns the U.K.’s Momentum in addition to Gallic distrib Mars and Germany’s Kinowelt; while French sales, finance and production entity Wild Bunch has entered into joint ventures with A Film in Benelux, Bim in Italy and Senator in Germany and has its own French distrib operations.

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