Parkland Pictures CEO John Cairns has teamed with former Arrow Films acquisitions director Tom Stewart to launch new U.K. distribution company Parkland Entertainment, Variety has confirmed. Stewart and Cairns will be joint partners in the new company, with Stewart attending next month’s Toronto Film Festival in his role as acquisitions director of the new company.
Cairns said he immediately saw an opportunity to expand Parkland’s operations when Stewart’s departure from Arrow was announced in June. “I saw the news and contacted him and suggested we got together,” Cairns told Variety. “I made him a partner, so we own the new company together.” Stewart does not hold an ownership stake in Parkland’s sales or production outfits.
The new distribution arm will kick off with three titles already on Parkland’s sales slate, starting with British thriller “Us and Them” (pictured), written and directed by Joe Martin, on Oct. 12. This will be followed by “Tell Tale Heart,” a feature adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story written by and starring Steven Berkoff and directed by Stephen Cookson, and writer-director Ben Hecking’s drama “Provenance.”
Cairns said that, within the first full year of operation, Parkland would probably only distribute perhaps two newly acquired titles beyond the three already announced, with the first acquisition title likely to be released in early 2019. “To be realistic, if we did six per year to start with, we’d be doing well,” said Cairns.
Cairns said a first acquisition had already been made for Parkland Entertainment, which would be announced in due course, and he expected at least one other title would be secured ahead of Toronto. That title is currently in pre-production, with Parkland also looking to board as a producer.
“It will take a little time to acquire other new titles,” said Cairns. “I am not looking to go flying in. I want Tom to find really good films that we feel we can do something with. We’ll be cautious about what we’re looking for.”
Stewart brings a wealth of experience to the role, having worked in the film and television industry for more than 30 years. He joined Arrow as head of acquisitions in October 2010. Prior to that, he spent five years as general manager of home entertainment for former U.K. distributor Metrodome Distribution and three years as head of U.K. sales for FremantleMedia.
Parkland Films was founded by Cairns in 1998, initially producing documentaries and later focusing on features. In 2006, he formed Parkland’s own international sales agency to sell its own titles and acquire international sales rights to films from outside the company, adding genre label Darkland in 2010. None of the three initial titles Parkland Entertainment will distribute are Parkland productions.