Multi-territory distrib buys leading indie Hopscotch

Entertainment One has acquired Australian and Kiwi distributor Hopscotch, the group’s first acquisition in the Australasian market.

Completion of the $21 million deal, which has been “part of conversations” between the two for several years, is expected around May 4.

Based in Sydney, Hopscotch will be part of eOne’s filmed entertainment division, headed by Patrice Theroux.

“We’re growing our presence globally and this is a natural territory expansion for us to continue on. We like to buy well-run companies so there’s never important changes to make,” Theroux told Variety.

“The acquisition is in line with our objectives and strategy, which is to expand our international distribution infrastructure.”

eOne’s deep pockets will help Hopscotch acquire more commercial and bigger movies, while eOne will feed its movies and TV series into Australia via Hopscotch.

The acquisition was made by eOne, a publically-listed company, from money raised in the U.K. through a share issue.

Founded in 2002, Hopscotch is one of the leading distributors in Australia and New Zealand, focusing on indie international titles as well as local content.

In 2010, Hopscotch released 15 titles theatrically and has a library of more than 300 features and TV titles.

Over the last three years, its notable releases include “The Wrestler,” “The Kids Are All Right,” “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” and “Barney’s Version.”

Its 2011 slate includes “Incendies,” “Beginners” and May 5 release “Source Code,” toplining Jake Gyllenhaal.

Hopscotch’s management team, led by managing director Troy Lum, Frank Cox and Sandie Don, will remain in place.”This deal enables Hopscotch to flourish as part of a larger international group,” said Lum. “It’s clear that eOne has successfully built a unique multi-territory film distribution operation that we are thrilled to become a part of.”

eOne operates in the U.K., U.S., Canada, Benelux, Germany, France, Scandinavia, South Africa and now Australia and New Zealand.Before the announcement, there was speculation that the eOne was interested in Jeremy Thomas’ U.K.-based sales outfit HanWay Films.

While Theroux would not comment on HanWay, he did say that as eOne continued to look to boost its international presence, it would be ideal to “have something located in Europe.”

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