Package includes 'Withnail,' 'Good Friday'

MADRID — London-based HandMade Films Intl. has sold a 44-title film package to Enrique Cerezo’s Video Mercury Films in Madrid.

The sale, which comprises DVD and TV rights for Spain, includes British modern classics such as “Withnail and I,” “Time Bandits” and “The Long Good Friday.”

The deal comes as Spain girds for analog switchoff in April. Switchoff, after the launch of 20 national DTT channels in Spain, is opening up new opportunities for film library sales. Madrid alone is offering 44 local DTT licenses.

Also a film producer, Cerezo owns and operates 8Madrid, a regional film/TV fiction DTT channel.

“We’re hoping to have our films on TV and released on DVD,” said HFI senior sales exec Tara Gaule.

Rolling off its Brit pic classics, “We’re trying to get the HandMade brand known in different territories,” Gaule added.

Meanwhile, HFI has also sold all rights to Japan to Presideo Corp. on the 2005 suspense thriller “Silence Becomes You,” starring Alicia Silverstone and Sienna Guillory, and World War II drama “Joy Division,” made in 2006, with Ed Stoppard and Tom Schilling.

At Berlin, HandMade will be pre-selling remakes of “The Long Good Friday” and “Mona Lisa.”

The Spain and Japan deals shows HFI conducting business as usual after management changes at parent company Handmade PLC.

In October, HandMade raised $27.6 million via an equity issue and convertible bonds and bought TV and merchandising rights to the Duchess of York’s children books.

On Jan. 7, HandMade PLC suspending trading on London’s Alternative Investment Market to review its financal position. A week later, Robert Benton, former CEO of Ingenious Media, was appointed non-executive chairman of HandMade PLC, coinciding with the exit of Richard Northcott as chairman and director.

Emiliano de Pablos contributed to this report.

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