Hammer eyes comeback with FirstSight

Pact to yield six pics, shooting starts in 2002

CANNES — Hammer, the legendary Brit horror label, is making its move back into film production through a partnership with Charles Sturridge’s FirstSight Films.

Hammer and FirstSight will develop and produce a slate of six horror films, budgeted in the $10 million to $20 million range.

They hope to shoot two films a year, starting in 2002. Some may be remakes or drawn from Hammer’s gallery of traditional horror characters, such as Dracula and Frankenstein, but most will be original stories.

Sturridge, best known for high-end TV series such as “Longitude,” “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Shackleton,” which is currently shooting, will direct some of the films himself.

Hammer was acquired last year by a group of investors intent on reviving the most venerable brand in British horror.

The company, headed by Terry Ilott and Peter Naish, will take responsibility for arranging the financing and distribution of the production slate. FirstSight, run by Sturridge with his partners Francesca Barra and Selwyn Roberts, will oversee the development and physical production.

“We are big fans of horror and even bigger fans of Hammer,” said Sturridge. “We started talking to the Hammer principals as soon as they bought the company, and we are thrilled to have reached agreement on this plan to deliver a high-quality slate of movies.”

Ilott commented, “The Americans are very good at high-school, suburban, teen, tongue-in-cheek horror. We’re not going to do anything like that. We’re taking horror completely seriously, and trying to do something that’s as good as the highest-quality drama that Hollywood has to offer.”

Sturridge added, “We expect that the entertainment value of the films we produce with Hammer will lie not just in the shock to the system that horror has to deliver, but in the thrilling intensity we can bring to the exploration of such issues as identity and redemption.”

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