There’s a new horror house in town.
Welcome Villain Films, a studio specializing in genre fare, launched on Thursday as a fully integrated shop to develop, produce, market and distribute movies. Welcome Villain Films already has two features in the works, a reimagining of “Last Shift,” as well as an untitled slasher project from the creators of “The Houses October Built.”
The company’s mission is to “empower creators of all levels, bridging the gap between studio and artist to consistently deliver edgy and exciting films in the horror and genre space,” according to a press release.
Welcome Villain Films has started to shape its executive team, which is currently comprised of four partners: Bonner Bellew as head of operations, Dan Clifton as head of production, Luke LaBeau as head of development, and Eric Kleifield as head of creative. It plans to expand the leadership group as the year progresses.
Bellew, a founder and CEO of advertising and media agency Soda and Lime, previously served as a television producer at NBC Universal and Warner Brothers. He also served as founder and CCO at Rocket XL, and executive creative director at Big Picture Group.
Clifton is a movie producer who has worked on over two dozen independent feature films. “In the ever-changing landscape of film distribution, WVF aims to be a beacon for filmmakers who are looking to collaborate with a full-fledged studio without all of the headaches and hurdles those relationships have presented in the past,” Clifton said in a statement.
LaBeau has been part of dozens of theatrical and premium video-on-demand releases in the genre space at companies like Blumhouse Productions, Orion Pictures, and Relativity Media.
“We live, breathe, and dream horror, and our goal is to partner with artists who share that same passion, and to support their creative visions in a truly collaborative fashion, ultimately bringing high quality films to the widest audience possible, in hopes of breathing new life into the genre,” LaBeau said. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to kick off WVF with two exciting horror projects from visionary filmmakers Anthony DiBlasi, and Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews. These films bring all the mayhem and bravado that genre fans love, and then some.”
Kleifield will spearhead marketing initiatives and assist in the development of commercial horror properties. An advertising specialist and creative director with a focus on producing and marketing genre content, Eric previously worked at Blumhouse Productions and Orion Pictures.
“Our fully-integrated studio model gives filmmakers the creative control they need to bring their visions to life, accompanied by the support of comprehensive studio-led marketing and distribution plans” he said.
Writer-director Anthony DiBlasi and writer-producer Scott Poiley are returning for “Last Shift,” which Magnolia Pictures released in 2015. The project is currently in active development.
“Reimagining the world of ‘Last Shift’ and pushing the storytelling to its fullest potential has long been a goal of ours,” DiBlasi said. “We were constrained by our budget on the first film, and the team at Welcome Villain is giving us the ability to revisit this world, delivering more of what fans loved about the original but also expanding on the mythology to terrify a whole new audience.”
Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews, filmmakers behind “The Houses October Built,” are currently working on a new thriller.
“We’re excited to bring creative kills and new twists to the genre, and happy to be spilling blood with Welcome Villain on this longtime passion project of ours,” said Roe and Andrews. “Welcome Villain is a team that respects every facet of the genre from production to its incredible innovative marketing capabilities, and we’re thrilled about this partnership.”
As part of its business model, Welcome Villain Films is unveiling strategic partnerships with full service advertising and media buying agency Soda and Lime and XR company Top Right Corner. Soda & Lime has previously worked with Universal, 20th Century Fox, Disney, and MGM Studios and will give WVF creative development and marketing capabilities to support their original productions and acquisitions. Top Right Corner will provide WVF with the in-house ability to produce video game content, leverage virtual set tech for productions, and develop immersive marketing initiatives and fan experiences in XR.
“Having a robust, dedicated creative and media team gives our film campaigns an unprecedented level of quality and scope; this in-house approach via Soda and Lime means campaigns can begin at a film’s inception” said Bellew, head of operations.