U.K. film and television veterans Bob Benton and Hilary Strong have launched new U.K. and international production company The Anthology Group. The move is a reorganization of Benton’s Bob & Co. group, which he founded in 2010 and where Strong has served as CEO since September 2017. Both will continue in those roles in the new company, with former Lion Television founder Jeremy Mills serving as chairman.
The new company will be the parent of Anthology Studios, which comprises six film and television production companies, a theater production company, and an established licensing company. Bob Anthology Advisory will also come under the new banner, continuing to advise on investment opportunities.
Two of the production companies are newly formed scripted production companies Mischief Screen and Rockfleet. Mischief Screen has been created in partnership with Mischief Worldwide, the newly announced team-up of Mischief Theatre, Kenny Wax and Stage Presence, and will be headed by Strong. Rockfleet was formed by former BBC producer Emma Smithwick and live-comedy producer-director Phoebe Bourke to focus on scripted comedy and drama series.
Announcing the restructuring at the Edinburgh Television Festival on Wednesday, Benton said: “This is an incredibly exciting moment for the company. Launching Anthology will allow us to move forward as a fully equipped production group, telling the best stories across television, theater and film platforms alongside our existing investment and licensing businesses.”
Benton said the company’s focus would be to develop and produce scripted and unscripted television, film, digital and theater content on an international scale, with an initial focus on factual, comedy and drama.
Strong said the company’s “genuinely diverse group” of businesses would each benefit from the expertise and talent of the others. “This level of diversity early on in the life of a new media group is unusual, and I am excited both by the creative and by the commercial opportunities that it opens up,” said Strong. “It is the right time to own rights, to finance their development and to have the talent to produce and exploit these across multiple media platforms within a single group.”
The other companies under the Anthology banner include: SUMS Film & Media, which focuses on feature films and scripted television digital formats; drama producer Duchess Street; factual labels Spark and Woodcut Media, both headed by Mills; stage production company Ghost Light Theatre Productions; and brand licensing agency Larkshead Media, which focuses on children’s television and art- and design-based titles.
Benton’s film credits include serving as executive producer on Hong Khaou’s BAFTA-nominated “Lilting,” starring Ben Whishaw, which was co-produced SUMS Film & Media; and Richard Loncraine’s romantic comedy “Finding Your Feet” (pictured), which released earlier this year. In her previous role as CEO of Agatha Christie Ltd., Strong served as executive producer on Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express” and the 2016 BBC miniseries “Witness for the Prosecution.”
Anthology Studios is represented in North America by WME.