'Grassroots' to be first release of Robert Mitchell-led offshoot

LONDON — International sales and financing company Intandem Films has become the latest player to enter the U.K.’s crowded theatrical distribution market.

The publicly-quoted outfit has joined forces with former Walt Disney U.K. topper Robert Mitchell to launch Intandem Films Distribution. Its first title will be Stephen Gyllenhaal’s comedy “Grassroots,” which world preemed at the Seattle Film Festival in June. Intandem has set a U.K. distribution date in October.

Intandem raised £1 million ($1.56 million) via a rights issue on the U.K.’s Alternative Investment Market to launch the distribution arm. Mitchell says efforts to raise further funding are likely this year and in early 2013 to fund expansion. “The idea was to raise just enough to get started, and to buy one or two films — not so much a war chest, as a small war drawer,” he said.

He plans to release three to five films in the coming year, rising to 10-15 by the third year of operation.

Mitchell has hired former Disney colleage J.J. Donovan as marketing director, and ex-Fox exec Terry Dove as sales director.

“U.K. distribution is a very good business in its own right, it can be very profitable and exciting, but for Intandem it is also part of the overall package they can offer to producers, helping them to get involved in more projects. It provides added appeal to U.S. producers,” Mitchell said.

His model is the U.K.’s long-defunct Palace Pictures — which pioneered Brit indie distribution in the 1980s, with an ecletic mix of edgy and marketable movies across all genres — where he learned his trade as a distributor before moving with Palace topper Daniel Battsek to launch Buena Vista’s U.K. operations.

Future releases will include projects for which Intandem is currently raising the finance and selling internationally, notably John Henderson’s “Catweazle,” based on the 1970s kids TV series, and Gil Junger’s “10 Things I Hate About Life,” a sequel to “10 Things I Hate About You,” which Mitchell handled at Disney.

Mitchell says his operation will concentrate solely on theatrical releasing, partnering with other companies to handle DVD and TV sales.

“As long as I can find the right projects, there is a room for a new distributor,” Mitchell said. “Cinema is so buoyant in the U.K., up 6% so far this year. My expertise is theatrical, I won’t be taking my eye off that, and I hope I can prove to filmmakers and industry that I still know how to release films.”

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